Children's Online Risks and Safety: A review of the available evidence

Thomas Spielhofer

03 March 2010

This review presents findings from the mapping study carried out by NFER on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), under the auspices of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCISS). The report maps the latest relevant evidence on the main topics related to the online risks to children, draws out some of the key findings from the evidence, and indicates where there are currently gaps where future research may be needed.

Key Findings

  • Evidence on access and use of the internet by children in the UK Where, what, how often and with whom do children access the internet? And what are the links between location, social context, platform, what is accessed and how often and online risks?
  • Evidence on the characteristics of children accessing the internet What are the characteristics of those accessing the internet in different ways in terms of their age, gender or socio-economic background? Are disadvantaged or vulnerable young people more or less likely to access the internet and are they more likely to encounter risks online?
  • Evidence on the online risks for children and young people What evidence is there on young people’s awareness and experience of different types of online risks, including online bullying, meeting and sharing details with strangers, accessing harmful or inappropriate content, enforcing negative behaviours and engaging in online sexual conduct?
  • Evidence on attempts at safeguarding children’s online experiences How aware are parents, teachers and children about ways of safeguarding from online risks? What is being done to try and safeguard children’s online behaviour and how effective are such attempts? And what are children’s experiences and attitudes towards safeguarding their online behaviour?

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