The first results from a survey of 1,162 pupils by the (ISC)2 Foundation’s Safe and Secure Online Programme on primary school children’s online behaviour has found that almost one-fifth of year five and six pupils have met with someone in the real world they have previously talked to only online. Half of these children did so without taking anyone with them, whilst 18% of pupils surveyed reported feeling personally uncomfortable or upset when chatting with an online contact they have never met in real life.
The concerning findings may be in part explained by 15% of respondents saying their parents never check their online activities, with over a third accessing the Internet from their bedrooms. Over 30% of respondents have never received any information on how to safely use the Internet. Another concerning finding centres around how many of the children surveyed lie about their age in order to gain access to popular social media sites such as Facebook, which usually have a minimum age requirement. From the pool of survey respondents who claimed they are active on social media, 32% said they were 2-6 years older than their actual age and one in ten claimed they were 5-9 years older. Additionally, 8% were using accounts which said they were aged between 18 and 25.
Alongside concerns over child safety, the results also reveal the impact of the length of time spent on the Internet by the 9, 10 and 11 year olds surveyed, particularly in regards to how late at night they are staying online. 43% of respondents use the Internet every day, whilst one in five use (or have used) the internet after 10pm, and an additional 7% have used it after midnight. As a result, it is perhaps not surprising that over 30% of school children admit to having been tired in class as a result of being on their computer late at night. Almost one in eight (12%) state they have been late to school after using their computer late at night, with 3% having missed a day of school.
This survey was carried out by Tim Wilson, an information security professional and school governor for the past 14 years, and member of the Safe and Secure Online programme run by the (ISC)2 Foundation. . The programme was introduced by (ISC)2, the largest body of certified information security professionals worldwide, in 2006 to offer Internet security experts the opportunity to educate children on how to protect themselves online and become responsible digital citizens.
After carrying out a sample survey and garnering shocking results at the school where he works, Tim conducted the survey at other schools when he presented the Safe and Secure Online Programme. The results announced today are collated from his visits across 15 primary schools in South East London, Kent, and Guernsey. “Young children seem to approach the real world and the virtual world very differently, and as a result, their perception of safety is skewed when spending time online,” said Tim Wilson.
“For parents, there is a strong call to action to ensure they are engaged in how their children use the Internet,” Wilson continued. “Bringing the family computer into the living room and having open conversations about potential online dangers will help them play a more active role in the relationships children are increasingly starting online. Parents should ensure their child is comfortable enough to discuss seeing something they shouldn’t online. For teachers and schools, the results point to an urgent need for more education on Internet safety to pupils, staff, and parents, especially with Ofsted monitoring pupil attendance and lateness. Fortunately, there are free resources like the Safe and Secure Online Programme to help guide them toward sound choices online.”
For more information or to request a Safe and Secure Online presentation in your school, please visit www.isc2cares.org.