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How are young people using the Internet?

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According to a report by Young Minds, the increasing availability of smartphones and tablets has made it really easy for children to access social media and the Internet in general. Half of all 9-16 year olds in Europe own a smartphone and many children can access the internet through their games console.

Furthermore, the report indicates that the vast majority of 9-16 year olds go online at least once a week, and the majority on a daily basis.

The report highlights some interesting statistics about young people’s internet use:

  • An estimated one in three of all Internet users in today’s world are below the age of 18.
  • Four in five of young adults, aged between 16-24 years, believe that digital technology plays a positive role in their relationships.
  • One in ten children and young people who have a diagnosable mental health condition go online to research more about their condition, and to reach out to their peers for mutual support.
  • One in five have shared personal information and photos with someone they only knew online.

The report gives useful insights into why young people use the Internet and, contrary to popular belief, the reasons go much deeper than a superficial need to be validated by peers or be ‘popular’. For young people today, forming bonds with people on the internet, and particularly social media platforms, has a lot to do with escaping family troubles or school pressures.

Traditionally, people sought a sense of belonging among their friends, family, neighbourhoods or communities. But in today’s fast paced world, we turn more often to social media and digital technology to find like-minded individuals or online communities that share our interests and beliefs. This is true for children and youngsters as well – they are much more likely to turn to the Internet to share difficult life experiences or get advice on sensitive issues.

According to an article in The Guardian, a recent Espad survey found that European teenagers use the internet on average 5.8 days a week and that girls (83%) use social media more regularly than boys (73%). Also, the research found that online gaming is far more prevalent among boys (39%) than among girls (7%).

One research study surveyed 12- to 17-year-old internet users, to examine teenage behaviour online, and found that the most popular online activities are seeking out information on search engines. The study also found that 80% went online to use social media, and seven out of ten use the internet to listen to music.

Other common online activities included – making friends, ‘hanging out’ with friends and sharing personal experiences. With the rise in popularity of Instagram and Snapchat, photos and videos are increasingly becoming the preferred way to connect with others online.

If you are worried about the kind of content your children are accessing online, read this blog for some helpful tips – How can I ensure my child accesses online content safely?

To learn more about e-Safety or safeguarding children join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Mark Kingham
Mark Kingham

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