The Office of Communications, commonly known as OfCom, the UK communication industry’s regulator and competition authority, recently released a report with Sherbert Research on children’s online behaviour, particularly how they think about and manage online risks and what sources online they trust.
The purpose of the study is also to further understand how children display critical thinking online.
In doing so, they aim to answer these two questions:
- “Do children understand the issues and risks around their personal data and their wider online activity and what, if any, strategies do they employ to manage these issues and risks?”
- “How do they decide which external information sources to trust online, and what authentication approaches do they use?”
A total of 54 participants, with ages 8 to 17, across the UK have participated in the study and are asked about their own perception of their online behaviour and what possible issues may arise from it.
Most of the findings are actually similar to the online problematic situations study I covered in early August. We recommend that you, dear Reader, visit that post first and then continue on here for more findings/pointers. I have itemized some of these below for your quick reference:
- Aside from parents and schools, participants draw knowledge on matters of privacy and security through media, particularly from news, dramatization of real-life events, and “edutainment” programs.
- Young children (ages 8 to 11) particularly express worry over getting their profiles/accounts hacked because of the possibility of manipulating someone else, or blackmailing others, while pretending to be them.
- Tweens (ages 11 to 14) were seen to be making riskier decisions online for the benefits of having fun, popularity, etc. compared to younger participants.
- Teenagers (ages 14 to 17) keep in-mind long-term repercussions of their decisions online compared to younger ones, believing that doing so jeopardizes their opportunities in the “adult” world.
- Teenagers are aware that they should authenticate the validity of sites before visiting them; however, they are generally complacent of doing this.
- The BBC, Google, and Wikipedia are some of the brands online that the participants trust.
- Participants are generally aware of online risks; however, they have yet to be taught how to determine which sites and content to trust. They’re also highly likely to trust brands than individuals online, which opens the opportunity for brands to influence their thinking and behaviour.
The study, “Children’s online behaviour: issues of risk and trust Qualitative research findings” (published in September 23, 2014), is available online for download here (97 pages).
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