Cyber-bullying revealed as children's greatest online fear

  • More than a quarter of children and young people are worried about cyber-bullying, a survey reveals – topping the list of online fears
  • 89% of children also think talking to parents would help keep them stay safe online, but parents reported that only 35% had done so in the last 12 months.
  • Survey of more than 4,000 children and young people and 4,000 parents and carers conducted on behalf of O2 and NSPCC ahead of Safer Internet Day

Being cyber-bullied is children’s greatest fear when they go online, according to a major survey conducted on behalf of O2 and the NSPCC ahead of Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 11 February).

When questioned, more than a quarter of children (27%) said bullying or someone being unkind to them was what worried them the most when using the internet.

The survey of more than 4,000 young people also revealed being contacted by someone they don’t know was the second biggest online concern (16% of respondents).

Speaking to parents or carers is overwhelmingly seen by children (89%) as the thing to do to help them stay safe online, but parents reported that only 35% had raised internet safety with them in the past 12 months.

The survey of more than 4,000 parents and carers also revealed that 92% felt they knew how to advise their child on staying safe online, but less than half (42%) had agreed guidelines on what they do when using the internet.

To mark Safer Internet Day, O2 and the NSPCC have created a new online family agreement for parents and children to fill-in and sign together to help encourage more regular conversations about internet safety.

The agreement provides families with the opportunity to make a joint pledge on things both parents and children will do when online.

O2 and the NSPCC also offer free online resources in the form of Net Aware, a website which explains the social networks, apps or games that children are using most frequently.

Laura Randall, Associate Head of Child Safety Online and Innovation at the NSPCC, said: “Children and young people are becoming increasingly aware of the risks they face when going online and the vital role their parents or carers can play in ensuring they stay safe.

“As a result, parents and carers need to take the initiative and set up regular conversations with their child about their online life, with our family agreement being a great way to kick things off.

“To ensure they are as well informed as possible parents and carers can also access free tools like Net Aware, where they can learn about the latest games, apps and social networks their children are using.”

Nicola Green, Corporate Affairs Director at O2 said:

“The digital world is an amazing place but it’s important that as parents we have regular conversations with our children so they’re aware how to safely navigate any potential dangers online.

“As a mum, I know it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start, which is why for Safer Internet Day this year we’ve created a family agreement, available in-store and to download online for free, as a handy tool for parents to explore what their children like doing online and agree to set some guidelines.”

As well as the family agreement, the partnership have developed a booklet offering the latest practical and simple tips on the risks children might face when using the internet, and advice about what parents can do to keep their child safe. The booklet is now available in more than 450 O2 stores nationwide.

-ENDS-

Chrysalis Research surveyed 4,730 parents of 8-13 year olds and 4,048 children of their children between October-December 2019.

The O2 and NSPCC joined forces in 2015 with the aim of giving parents and carers the knowledge, skills and confidence to keep their children safe online.

The partnership has created some quick and memorable advice for parents to make sure their child is safe online:

T – talk about staying safe online

E – explore their online world together

A – agree rules about what’s ok and what’s not

M – manage your family’s settings and controls

And repeat, making it part of your everyday life.

As well as Net Aware, the partnership runs the O2 NSPCC advice line, which is open five days a week (0808 800 5002).

Parents can also book an appointment with an O2 Guru in their local O2 store, even if they aren’t an O2 customer, to get advice on internet safety for children and setting up parental controls.