The Facts

Positive and Negative Aspects of the Internet

Positive aspects of the Internet:
• Great for research
• Cheap or free communication and collaboration
• Easy to create and publish content and get it noticed
• Great for children to develop future job skills as fun hobbies
• Introduces children to the world of commerce and business
• Encourages creativity and individualism
• Children feel they have ‘ownership’ of the Internet

Negative aspects of the Internet:
• Cyber bullying
• Online privacy and personal information
• Reputation management and ‘digital footprint’
• Sexting, grooming, pornography and inappropriate material
• Illegal downloads and copyright infringement
• Spam, phishing, viruses and malware
• Children lying about their age to get onto social networking platforms with a 13+ age limit

The positives need to outweigh the negatives in e-safety education

The best outcome regarding e-safety incidents, cyber bullying and online harassment with school-aged children is always to persuade the pupils to see the consequences of their actions and remove the material of their own accord. Much better outcomes are seen when children decide for themselves what is and is not appropriate and self-regulate their actions.
Schools and parents have a huge role to play in providing this guidance first, rather than imposing rigid rules and sanctions as an initial measure.

Minimum age limits

Many social networking platforms – especially Facebook – have minimum age limits (for Facebook, for example, it’s 13) and built-in child protection features which are only activated for children aged 13-16. If the child claims they are, say, 21, these features are switched off. It is crucial that children do not lie about their age. Under these child protection features, harassment and bullying reports go to the top of the queue for 13 to 16-year-olds and material is more likely to be deleted by Facebook. Also, uninitiated contact by an adult who has no friends in common or other connections to a child will be automatically flagged by Facebook, and all chat, posts and messages will be monitored for an unspecified period – possibly up to six months. If there’s anything of concern it will get forwarded by Facebook to law enforcement. However, this only happens if the child is between 13 and 16 and has provided their correct age.


• 88% of all 5 to15-year-olds live in a house with Internet access. (Source: Ofcom)
• Children are becoming more and more likely to use a mobile phone to access the Internet. (Source: Ofcom)
• Facebook has over 1.4 billion registered users. (Source: Facebook)
• The average person on Facebook has 338 friends. (Source: PEW Research 2014)
• 12-15s are twice as likely to say they would miss their mobile phone than the TV. (Source: Ofcom)
• There are over 100 billion searches on Google each month. (Source: Google)
• There are over 500 million Tweets every day. (Source: Twitter)
• The number of text messages sent in the UK is falling (now estimated at just 170 per person per month) in favour of instant
messaging (such as WhatsApp). (Source: Ofcom)

Time spent on the Internet:
• The estimated weekly time spent using the Internet at home in 2014 increased with the age of the child: 7.2 hours for 5 to
7-year-olds, 10.5 hours for 8 to 11-year-olds and 17.2 hours for 12 to 15-year-olds. (Source: Ofcom)
• In 2012, 12 to 15-year-olds spent more time using the Internet than watching television. (Source: Ofcom)

Children and social networking:
• In 2014, 7 in 10 young people aged 12-15s who go online have a social media profile. (Source: Ofcom)
• The number of those aged 5-7 with a social media profile has increased from 1% to 5% between 2013 and 2014 (Source:
• Nearly all 12-15s with a social networking site profile have one on Facebook, while Intsagram has overtaken Twitter in
popularity among this group. (Source: Ofcom)
• 75% of 8 to 15-year-olds lie about their age when signing up to Facebook. 50% of parents are aware of this. (Source: Stop
web bullying).

Internet safety issues:
• 79% of children use the Internet at home unsupervised. (Source: Childnet)
• 69% of young people say they don’t like their parents checking up on their online activities. (Source: Childnet)
• 49% of young people claim they have given private information to someone they have met online. (Source: NCH)
• 31% of 9 to 18-year-olds who use the Internet at least once a week have received unwanted sexual or nasty comments.
(Source: NCH)
• 57% of child Internet users have come into contact with online pornography. (Source: NCH)
• 1 in 12 children have met face-to-face with someone they first met online. (Source: NCH)

Advertising and information:
• 40% of 9 to 18-year-olds trust most of the information on the Internet. (Source: NCH)
• 8 to 11-year-olds (70%) are more likely than 12 to 15-year-olds (48%) to believe that the information on sites such as
Wikipedia is all or mostly true. (Source: Ofcom)
• 73% of online adverts are not clearly labelled as such. (Source: Childnet)

Key tips

• Know what your children are doing online.
• Be aware who your children are talking to online.
• Explain why your children should not give out personal details online
• Explain to your child that nothing is private on the Internet – anything can be copied, whether it be private pictures, comments or messages.
• Point out that your child should always consider what an employer or partner might be able to find about them on Google in 5 to 10 years’ time.
• Avoid replying to junk, spam or phishing emails, or opening attachments which might contain viruses or malware.
• Teach your children to be sceptical about information they read online.
• Ensure your child does not meet up with online friends unless accompanied by a parent/carer.
• Creating a positive environment where your child can be open and inquisitive and feel confident discussing their online
experiences, whether positive or negative.
• Teach your children how to block and report any behaviour or content which makes them feel uncomfortable.