Recent research has found that more UK children are now bullied more online than face-to-face. The London School of Economics study Net Children Go Mobile compared data from 2010 with 2013 and reported an increase in cyberbullying, from eight to 12 percent, and a decrease in face-to-face bullying, from 16 to 9 percent.
The study found an increase in the use of smartphones and tablets amongst young people, with a reduced usage of desktop PC’s, making parental or teacher supervision harder.
The most popular online activities are watching video clips, social networking and listening to music, with Facebook being the most used social networking site amongst younger children (9-12 year olds) and Twitter being increasingly used by 9-16 year olds. However the report found that overall the use of social networking sites has fallen since 2010 particularly amongst girls and younger children.
The conclusions of the report include:
- Children must be educated to become competent and resilient digital citizens
- Education should link technical competence in managing online interfaces with personal, social and sexual education so that children are empowered to respond constructively
- There is a notable increases in children’s exposure to cyberbullying, race hate, pro-anorexia content and self-harm websites
- The UK appears to prioritise minimising risk over maximising the opportunities of the internet
- Greater effort should now be devoted to optimising the benefits of the internet for more children.