Increase in mobile phone and internet-use by young people

Increase in mobile phone and internet-use by young people

Fewer than 1 in 5 young people experience cyberbullying or online abuse.

As the cost of owning and using digital devices becomes cheaper it is likely that even a young child will be carrying a mobile phone with access to the Internet. In many ways this is a good thing, especially in cases of emergency.

However, it is also a cause for concern for parents who find it hard to keep track of what their children are looking at on a smartphone.

In the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry’s Annual Research Review: Harms experienced by child users of online and mobile technologies, bibliographic data gathered from key research disciplines (published since 2008) was examined. The review declares that almost a fifth of young people have experienced some form of online abuse through mobile phones and/or the internet.

Mobile phones are, essentially, a private means of communication and it is easy for a child to conceal what they are doing. In the vast majority of cases the usage will be harmless, childish interaction with friends gossiping about their lives. Unfortunately, though, there is a darker side to the use of mobile phones with messages of a sexual or aggressive nature often being passed between users and, even worse, coming from strangers.

Internet and mobile phone safety rising

Fortunately the news is not all bad. According to the Annual Research Review there has been no substantial rise in reported incidents.

The review suggests this may be because of increasing awareness of internet and mobile phone safety amongst young people, and the success of initiatives directed towards ensuring safety online.

It also found that the prevalence of risks online “do not appear to be rising substantially”.

The study also advises that whilst not all risks result in harm, emotional and “psychosocial consequences” are emerging from longer term studies, citing vulnerable young people with low self esteem, social difficulties, low levels of parental supervision and visitors to “specific online sites” as being most at risk.

The report concludes that offline and online risks are more intermingled than ever before, and more research is needed to examine the relation between risks, so that they can be more effectively managed.

Resources: Annual Research Review: Harms experienced by child users of online and mobile technologies: the nature, prevalence and management of sexual and aggressive risks in the digital age