Online bullying of children rises; “sexting” declines

Online bullying of children rises; “sexting” declines

According to EU Kids Online and Net Children Go Mobile, the number of children receiving nasty or bullying messages online has risen (pdf).

The research, which compared the responses of two separate focus groups, three years apart, reveals a rise of 4% since 2010 in the number of 9-16 year olds who received these kinds of messages and a 6% rise in 11-16 year olds who have been exposed to pro-anorexia sites in the last three years.

According to Professor Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics and Political Science, who directs the EU Kids online project, more effort is needed to address the rise in this sort of online behaviour.

Professor Livingstone said that although the e-safety and digital citizenship initiatives might have some effect, it is parents, teachers and policy and industry-builders who need to take action to protect children.

One awareness-raising initiative appears to have worked, claims the report. ‘Sexting’, the receipt and sending of sexual messages online or via text, has seen a measurable decrease amongst 11-16 year olds.

Other figures published in the report show there has been no rise in the number of children who have gone to a meeting with someone they met online, or who have encountered pornographic images.

Professor Livingstone said: “The figures also show that the picture is complex, neither simply getting better or worse. The internet continues to change, and so does the experience of our children. That’s why all concerned with children’s welfare must stay alert to the important role of the internet in children’s lives today.”