Kids are now born into a world with social media, as well as a tangled web of images, games, users, and algorithms that make it nearly impossible for parents to know everything they’re doing. A new study(Opens in a new window) by ExpressVPN asked over 2,000 children in the US and the UK about the biggest issues they’re facing online and on which platforms.
The top problems kids reported experiencing are somebody being rude or swearing at them (34%), seeing scary videos (31%), and seeing scary photos (26%). Their parents, roughly 2,000 surveyed adults, gave slightly different answers.
Parents believe the top issue their children face is bullying (59%), which kids reported as the fourth worst (22%). After bullying, adults are most concerned about grooming (45%) and offensive images/videos (43%).
Comparison of issues faced online as reported by parents vs. children.
Nefarious online users are also asking children for inappropriate information: 17% of children surveyed said a stranger had asked the name of their school, and 14% said the same about their home address. A disturbing 21% of children said they’ve been asked to buy something.
This is all happening in the relatively short amount of time that these children are spending online, an average of 28 minutes per day between the ages of four and 13. The time spent increases as children get older: four-year-olds reported 21 minutes per day, and that number goes up to 45 minutes for 13-year-olds.
More American children (63%) than British children (53%) reported being on social media. The study also found a notable difference in education on internet safety, with more UK children reporting having learned about it in school (57%) than US kids (40%).
The platforms where kids experience the most bullying, scary images, and other negative scenarios also vary by country.
Recommended by Our Editors
Most Negative Platforms: US Children
Most Negative Platforms: UK Children
YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook do not allow kids who report that they are younger than 13 to create accounts. But Roblox, the site with the most issues for UK children, doesn’t specify an age. Also, the key word here is report. A fourth of the children surveyed reported that they lied about their age online (24%). Around 15% also give false information when asked their age, what they’re currently up to, and their location.
In defense of caretakers, a strong majority of children said their parents and guardians have taught them about internet safety (84%). Most parents agree they are most responsible for teaching their children about this (76%); far fewer said schools (8%) and social media companies (5%) are most responsible.
For more guidance, read How to Teach Your Kids to Be Safe Online, 10 Things Every Parent With a Connected Kid Needs to Know, and All About Balance: How to Enable Parental Controls on PlayStation, Switch, and Xbox.
Like What You’re Reading?
Sign up for SecurityWatch newsletter for our top privacy and security stories delivered right to your inbox.