Safe use of the internet is an issue that regularly comes up in our work with young people. The internet is great and there are so many positive ways to use it, from connecting with friends to learning something new. However there are also a lot of risks. 91% of children live in a house which has internet access and 43% of children aged 12-15 have access to the internet in their bedrooms 1. So what are they doing online? Ofcom research has shown that 11-15 year olds spend just over 7 hours a day using media and communication whereas 6-11 year olds spend just over 5 2. Most of this time is spent streaming live TV, watching videos, playing games and using social media.
So what risks are they facing? Research has shown some of the main issues that young people are facing online are cyberbullying, accessing inappropriate content, meeting and sharing information with online contacts, sexual online behaviour and gambling 3. In a recent poll of children aged 11-16 over half of them (57%) said they had done something risky or anti-social online 4. Reading those statistics, parents and professionals might be tempted to try and prevent internet use altogether, however there are risks associated with lack of access to the internet too-mainly missing out on social and educational opportunities. So how can we support young people to stay safe online? One of the best ways is to empower young people to make good choices online by helping them gain the knowledge they need. There is a wealth of information and support for young people, parents/carers and professionals-where is it? You guessed it! Online. Please click the link below for a list of useful links to advice and information put together by Oxfordshire County Council.