Young ‘digital natives’ are too trusting when they go online, study finds

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:
Photo: iStock

Youngsters are increasingly trusting of what they see on the internet and sometimes lack the understanding to decide what is true and impartial and what is not, a study has found.

Children are spending an average of 15 hours a week online – more than twice as much as they did a decade ago.

A new study also suggests that youngsters are increasingly trusting of what they see on the internet and sometimes lack the understanding to decide what is true and impartial and what is not.

Almost a fifth of 12 to 15-year-olds polled for Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media use and attitudes 2015 report believed that information returned by search engines such as Google or Bing must be true. Only a third were able to identify paid-for advertisements within these results.

The study pointed out that even though today’s children have grown up with the internet and are so-called “digital natives”, they need to improve their digital knowledge.

“The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family,” said James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research.

“But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.”

Nearly eight per cent of children aged between eight and 15 who go online believe information from social media sites or apps is “all true” – double the number of a year ago.

Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for “true and accurate” information about what is going on in the world. But while nearly 10 per cent say YouTube is their preferred choice, only half of 12 to 15-year-olds realise advertising is the main source of funding for the site and less than half know that vloggers (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

Many of the children who took part in the study expressed concern about spending too much time on the internet. Nearly one in three 12 to 15-year-olds admitted they spent too much time online, particularly on social media sites.

Fifteen per cent of eight to 11-year-olds had internet access in their bedrooms and 34 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds – via a desktop, laptop or netbook. Many use portable devices, like tablets and mobile phones to go online.

Parents were quizzed about their role in online safety too. More than nine in 10 parents of children aged eight to 15 said they managed their children’s internet use in some way – either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their children or setting rules about internet access and online behaviour.

Children and Parents: Media use and attitudes can be found at http://bit.ly/1OwoZDF


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