Fifty per cent of school children surveyed by the NSPCC admit they’ve seen sexual, violent and other adult material on social media sites, apps and games.
Also, 78 per cent of children reported that they had joined social media sites before reaching the minimum age of 13 as stipulated by many in the terms and conditions.
The findings are revealed in the latest update of the Net Aware guide, produced by the NSPCC in partnership with O2. Now available for the first time as a free mobile app, it is the UK’s only parents’ guide to 50 of the most popular social media sites, apps and games that young people use, designed to help them talk to their children about socialising safely online.
It’s shocking that 50 per cent of school children surveyed by the NSPCC have seen pornographic and violent material on social media sites, apps and games.
The question is how many parents are aware of the fact? How many realise their children could be logging on and seeing inappropriate pictures at sites such as Sickipedia?
Worryingly, the research has shown that children were more likely than their parents to report seeing harmful content. In a world where an increasing amount of our time is spent online, it is only right parents should get the chance to learn more about keeping their youngsters safe on the web.
The research revealed young people were more likely than parents to report seeing harmful content on three quarters of the sites they looked at.
To inform the guide, NSPCC and O2 asked 1725 children and young people and over 500 parents on the O2/NSPCC Parent Advisory Board to review and rate the most popular social networking sites and apps.
The top five sites where young people reported seeing inappropriate content were Sickipedia (100 per cent of children surveyed), Chatroulette (92 per cent), Omegle (89 per cent), Ask.fm (88 per cent), and Yik Yak (74 per cent). But it’s not just parents, we know online safety is a major concern for children because that is what they tell us.
Since 2011 the NSPCC’s schools service has been speaking directly to primary age children in Falkirk about all forms of abuse, including online, teaching them how to stay happy and safe.
So far in Falkirk, the service has spoken to 3662 children.
But despite repeated calls for improvements in online safety, the Net Aware results have highlighted the scale with which children and young people are being exposed to inappropriate content on social media.
It is vital that parents sit down together with their children regularly to talk about which social media sites they are using, and how to get help if they need it.