Over 75 percent of 6-7 year olds have joined in with an online chat - Natterhub

Over 75 percent of 6-7 year olds have joined in with an online chat

Over 75 percent of 6-7 year olds have joined in with an online chat

The rise of young children online: over 75% of 6-7 year olds have joined in a chat online and over half already have an online profile, says a new report. 


More than three quarters of young children aged 6-7 have taken part in a conversation online, and over half have already created an online profile, recent research has shown. This worrying statistic represents a growing number of children going online at a very young age, and potentially being exposed to online harms.


The results come from anonymous data from over 37,000 primary-aged pupils across the UK who were asked about their feelings and experiences of their lives online, such as gaming and communication, sharing information and screen time among other topics.  


The data was collected by online safety and digital literacy platform Natterhub and will be released in the run-up to Safer Internet Day to highlight the growing risks of internet use among children. The report is one of the first surveys of its kind to talk to children directly and offers a unique insight into the thoughts and feelings of 5-11 year olds on the internet and social media.


In more shocking statistics, when asked about their behaviour online, 60% of 10-11 year olds believe they can share anything online so long as no-one finds out; three quarters of 8-9 year olds have posted a photo of themselves online; 60% of pupils aged 10-11 say they’ll share anything online; and 60% of pupils aged 7-8 have felt pressured or anxious online.


Issues highlighted in the report, such as the use of online chat and the pressure to share private images or information, are of growing concern among online safety experts like Natterhub. They align with both Safer Internet Day 2023's theme of 'Want to talk about it?' and Natterhub's recent #HaveTheConversation campaign, which encourages parents to talk to their child about behaviour online 'before someone else does'. 


The data from Natterhub, which has been gathered over the last year (from Sept 2021 - Sept 2022) found a growing number of children were: viewing content that was never designed for them to see; making errors of judgement that could be costly; being exposed to online peer pressures that may affect self-confidence and wellbeing; were unsure of expectations and boundaries. 


In general, there has been a rise in these areas across the board compared to Natterhub's 2020/2021 report which was collected during lockdown - showing that habits have been formed, and digital dependency has not waned post-lockdown.

Other key findings include:


  • 66 % of 7-8 year olds felt it was ‘true’ that online friends are not real friends. This was further supported by 86% saying they felt they knew less about their online friends than the ones they spend time with in person.

  • Independent activity online was particularly prevalent within the 8-9 year old category. Over half said they have used a device when they were not supposed to and 89% said they had used someone else’s device.


  • Reassuringly, over half of the 8-9 year olds have an understanding that you can glean personal information from a photo, however, 63% believe they would need to sort the situation out themselves if they posted the wrong picture online. 


  • In contrast, 86% of 7-8 year olds said they would ask a trusted adult for help if they felt they had shared something they shouldn't have.

  • 57% of 7-8 year olds play games with higher age restriction, and over half of 10-11 year olds ignore PEGI ratings.


  • 26% of 5-6 year olds and 47% of 8-9 year olds don’t have any screen-time rules, which highlights the need for parents to get on top of their children's internet use.

  • Over 70%of 9-10 year olds say they are distracted by technology, and over half of 7-8 year olds have forgotten important things because of being online.


Manjit Sareen, Co-founder of Natterhub and a parent of two young children, said: “Direct feedback from children on the way they use the internet is absolutely invaluable. Although it can be shocking, it is crucial in giving us a real-time view of the issues children face and how life online affects them. It's so important that educators, parents and policy-makers take heed of these insights and use them to make children's online lives safer".


Co-founder Caroline Allams, who worked as an Assistant Headteacher before founding Natterhub, said: “Here at Natterhub it's our mission to address the key issues raised in this report through a teacher-parent-pupil approach. It's not just about teaching an online safety curriculum in school, but empowering parents to help their child navigate the dangers and become safe and kind digital citizens. With internet safety being discussed in the media more than ever, there is no time to waste; now is the time to pay close attention to the data, take action, and provide support where children need it most".  


Journalists can get exclusive early access to the report here: natterhub.com/report2022. This link will be available to the general public on 6th February 2023 to coincide with Safer Internet Day.


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