Almost half of British children are scared to use the internet

Research by Kaspersky Lab to mark Safer Internet Day 2017 reveals that the increasing threats facing children online are now having a detrimental effect, with almost half (49 per cent) of 10-15 year olds in the UK admitting they are scared or worried about going online. From the collection of personal data by connected devices, including children’s toys, to grooming on gaming platforms such as Minecraft, it’s no surprise that children are becoming afraid of what they may encounter online – but what can be done to rebuild their confidence? Kaspersky Lab is supporting Safer Internet Day 2017 to help address this issue.

According to the survey, specifically, over one in five (21 per cent) of children worry that a stranger might bully them; 18 per cent worry that a stranger might ask them to do something they’d be uncomfortable with; 13 per cent worry a stranger might ask them to do something illegal; and one in ten (ten per cent) worry that strangers would still have access to information they have posted online even after they have deleted it.

In addition, the children surveyed are also conscious that their own activities online may cause worry among peers, with over a third (36 per cent) admitting that they have previously regretted posting something online because it may have negatively affected a friend or someone else.

“The benefits of children being online and connected are numerous. So it’s easy to forget that children and young people are inherently vulnerable and may expose themselves to danger, whether knowingly or unknowingly, when using the internet and connected devices,” says David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab. “This years’ theme for Safer Internet Day is ‘uniting for a better internet’. It is the combined duty of care of the security industry, government, teachers and parents, to mitigate the risks and provide children with a safe, secure online environment where they can work, rest and play.”

“As the internet increasingly becomes the medium of choice for children and young people, this important research demonstrates the need to ensure they have the right technology tools and guidance to make safe choices online,” adds David Miles, international online child protection expert and member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Evidence Group. “Given the right support, children feel incredibly empowered by what they find online. Whether it’s to socialise, learn or play, we all have a collective responsibility to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits for this new digital generation.”

Kaspersky Lab urges parents, teachers and the industry to work together to create a safe environment for children, so they can learn and thrive online, as opposed to being scared or worried to connect to the internet altogether.