Online safety research

Take a look at the latest research that we’ve conducted, alongside other great pieces of research highlighting the changing trends in the way parents and children use the internet.

We’ve focused on research that centres around how parents and children use technology and how e-safety issues and awareness is changing the way they interact with the internet. Select the area of research that you’d like to learn more about to see more.

Screen time report 

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This report provides insight on parents’ concerns and understanding of the issue of children’s screen time use.

It highlights what both children and parents feel are the challenges and benefits as they get older and become more proficient online.

Live streaming and vlogging report

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The report provides insight on what parents of children aged between 4 – 16 understand about live streaming and vlogging and the opportunities and potential risks that children can be exposed to online.

It also offers resources to help parents take an active role in helping children have a safer experience while sharing online.

Parenting Digital Natives

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The report provides insight on what parents of children aged between 4 – 16 think about their children’s digital lives and what concerns they have about online risks.

It also touches on what further help they need to support their children to stay safe online.

Children’s online safety 2016

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To get a better understanding of how parents and children use the internet, the key parental concerns and how parents are helping children stay safe online, we commissioned Opinion Leader to carry out a programme of research over the summer of 2016.

The report summarises the findings and looks in particular detail at these questions in relations to cyberbullying and sexting.

Pace of Change report

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We commissioned CHILDWISE to carry out a UK wide study to explore the use and understanding of technology amongst children aged 7-17, and parents of children this age.

The research revealed a number of key findings including, the increasing gap between parents and children online and the fact that children are spending significantly longer online then their parents, with girls using smartphone on average 4 hours a day.

Screen time stats 2017

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Research has found that more than half of parents are concerned their child will spend the holidays glued to their phone or computer.

In a bid to help parents and children manage screentime, we’ve devised five simple tips to help children make the most out of their time both on and offline.



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This research was commission to support the creation of Internet Matters in 2013.

Based on the finding that 74% of parents wanted more information and advice about online safety, the four Internet Service Providers, BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media, develop an information campaign to help parents keep their children safe online.

Back to school survey 2015


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We surveyed 1,000 parents in the UK with children aged 8-11 years old to find out what they thought about what age children should be using smartphones.

The survey revealed the majority of parents (84.6%) would like a minimum age for smartphone ownership in the UK – with age 10 being the most popular minimum age.

Vulnerable children in a digital world 

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The study, in partnership with Youthworks and the University of Kingston, used a robust dataset of vulnerable young people’s online experiences to identify how they might be more likely to encounter certain online risks.

This report provides insight into the online world of the UK’s most vulnerable children highlights the potential online risks that different groups of vulnerable children may face online, such as pressure to be sexting, cyberbullying, cyber scams, or seeing content promoting self-harm, anorexia and suicide.

Life of 6-year olds online

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We carried out research which revealed the online habits of a six-year-olds are as digitally advanced as 10-year-olds were just three years old.

Take a look at our  infographic to see how six-year-olds online habits compare to that of 10-year-olds and how they’ve changed since 2013.  If you’d like to get practical advice on keeping them safe, please take a look at our advice and guides.

Childnet Livestreaming research

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A report from Childnet, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, into children’s experiences of watching and sharing livestreams.

The survey of 500 children and young people aged 8-17 years conducted by Populus found that YouTube Live is the most popular service for watching others livestream, while Instagram Live is the most popular service that children use to ‘go live’ themselves. Get tips from Childnet and advice created by young people.

Net Aware report 2017

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Using data from the NSPCC and O2’s Net Aware research with 1,696 11-18yr olds, this NSPCC report seeks to amplify the voices of children and young people – exploring what they like about the online space, as well as highlighting the factors that prevent them from using it safely.

One of the key findings reveals that  young people are facing significant risks on the apps, sites and games they are using. These risks include interaction with strangers, violence and hatred, sexual content and bullying.

FOSI Kids & Connect home report

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In early December FOSI and the Future of Privacy Forum released a white paper on ” Kids and the Connected Home: Privacy in the Age of Connected Dolls, Talking Dinosaurs, and Battling Robots.”

The paper explores the landscape of connected toys including how toys connect to platforms and servers and the variety of types of connected toys.

FOSI Research


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The report “Parents, Privacy & Technology Use”, commissioned by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), evaluates parents’ opinions and views on the role of technology in their child’s life.

It reveals that the large majority of parents believe technology has a positive effect on their child’s future, career and life skills (78%) and creativity (64%).

Techknowledge research


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How children use mobile devices at school and at home – September 2015

It was carried out by Techknowledge for Schools and research agency Family Kids & Youth who interviewed over 7,000 pupils in 31 mobile device-using schools to better understand how young people are using mobile devices at school and at home.

NSPCC report 

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The NSPCC’s ‘How safe are our children? 2017 sets out 20 different indicators. Each indicator looks at the question of ‘how safe are our children?’ from a different perspective. They also include historic data, to help track progress over time.

Guardian spirits survey 2016

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The document provides an overview of the responses given by Foster Carers to questions in relation to the key issues, concerns and challenges they experience supporting Online Safety for the Children and Young people for whom they care.

This is supported by background information together with associated commentary from Guardian Saints in
relation to the issues raised.

Digital Childhood

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The Digital Childhood report, led by Dr Angharad Rudkin, Child Clinical Psychologist at the University of Southampton, and convened by Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, Founder of 5Rights, considers how growing up in a digital world directly impacts on a child’s development.

Families & screen time

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This report from the London School of Economics and Political Science evaluates the impact of current advice given on screen time and offers a new perspective on how parents and children should be supported on this issue.

Hopes & Streams LGfL survey report

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This report from the LGfL DigiSafe gives an insight of what 40,000 pupils love, hate, do and share online. It also gives insight into what they do when things go wrong in their digital world.

Cyberbullying survey 2017

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As part of our #Pledge2Talk campaign to encourage parents to talk about cyberbullying with their children, our survey revealed that parents of both sexes are most concerned about ‘body image’ bullying. They are also now are more worried about children being bullied over social media than face to face.

See our infographic to see other stats that show parents cyberbullying concerns for boys versus girls.

Focus on: Cyberbullying

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Together with Anti-bullying Alliance and the National Children’s Bureau, we’ve created a cyberbullying resource which explains the different forms of cyberbullying, their impact on children and importantly what parents, carers and schools can do to help a child deal with it.

It’s featured stats and findings from a broad range of existing research on cyberbullying which you can draw on.

Annual bullying survey 2017

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Carried out by Ditch the Label,  this is the fifth and largest edition of this yearly benchmark of bullying in the UK.  Over 10,000 young people aged 12-20 in partnership with schools and colleges from across the country.

The report has thousands of the latest bullying statistics and fully explores the reasons why young people bully others.

In Game abuse report 2017

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Working with Habbo, Ditch the Label created this report to explore the nature and extent of bullying within online gaming environments.

Over a period of 4 days  2,515 young people aged 12 – 25 were surveyed about their experiences of being subjected to, witnessing and perpetrating bullying in online gaming environments.

DfE Cyberbullying research

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This report summaries data on cyberbullying informed by an analysis of data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study for England, 2014.1

The data draws on responses from 5,335 students aged 11-15 years who completed the HBSC survey in England. This thematic report presents data from the most recent survey and illustrates associations between cyberbullying and demographics and social context.

Cyberbullying UK research

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Cyberbullying research centre has pulled together a list of research carried out in the UK which focuses on a range of scopes from the prevalence of cyberbullying among students to cyberbullying, self -esteem, empathy and loneliness.

Childline bullying report

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What children are telling us about bullying? report 2015 / 16  from Childline aims to help people working with children to understand what children who are being bullied are experiencing, think about what support they need, and consider how to respond effectively.

Stop cyberbullying day survey

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Organisers of Stop cyberbullying day – Cybersmile – carried out a survey of 50,000 internet users across all 50 states of the U.S. and the entire U.K. exploring bystander experiences of cyberbullying and online abuse.

The survey covers issues including racism, homophobia, harassment, religion, social media abuse and more.

Social media survey 2016

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As part of our social about social campaign helping parents protect their children across social media, our survey revealed that children as young as 11 post an average of 26 times a day, attract 100 followers to every one of their profiles – yet six out of 10 of them are not real friends.

We’ve create an infographic to showcase other stats that show how children around the UK use social media.

RSPH #StatusOfMind

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Created by the RSPH and the Young health Movement the report includes a league table of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health.

YouTube tops the table as the most positive with Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

EPI Social and mental health

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The Education Policy and Institute (EPI) examined the evidence of the impact of using social media on young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The analysis, Social media and children’s mental health: a review of the evidence, scrutinises the latest evidence on the digital lives of young people, the benefits and risks associated with using social media, and the evolving nature of technology.

Life in ‘likes’ report 2018

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New report from Children Commissioner on effects of social media on 8-to-12-year-olds shows the way children use social media and its effects on their wellbeing hits a ‘cliff edge’ when they start secondary school.

Life in Likes’ fills a gap in research showing how younger children use platforms which the social media companies say are not designed for them.

Online grooming survey

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In order to understand the impact of online grooming Barnados carried out a snapshot survey of five Barnardo’s sexual exploitation services across the UK.

The survey revealed that in the last six months of 2016, these five services alone had supported 702 children and that 42% of these children were groomed online. Of those groomed online, nearly two-thirds (61%) met the perpetrator and were sexually exploited.  Almost half of those groomed online were also exploited by more than one offender.


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The NSPCC report seeks to help explore the prevalence of the technology-assisted harmful sexual behaviour (TA-HSB) and links between TA-HSB and offline HSB.

Impact of online pornography

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The NSPCC report focuses on the impact of online pornography on the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of children.

The research consisted of an online survey of 1001 children and young people aged 11-16 across the UK, an online discussion forum and online focus groups.

Ofcom: Revealing Reality

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To help understand why children are drawn towards online content, Ofcom carried out a detailed qualitative study of children’s viewing.

A panel of 40 boys and girls, aged 4-16, from around the UK, offered in-depth data, seven-day diaries and interviews on what they were watching and why. The study revealed powerful preferences for choice, control and a sense of community.

Ofcom report 2018


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According to Ofcom’s latest report into children’s media literacy, children’s online time stopped growing for the first time in 2018 – estimated at an average of 2 hours 11 minutes per day, the same as the year before – their average daily TV time has fallen year on year by almost eight minutes, to an estimated 1 hour 52 minutes.

The report also shows that YouTube remains children’s primary online destination, with 80% having used it. Nearly half (49%) of children, and a third (32%) of pre-schoolers aged 3-4, now watch subscription on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.

Ofcom report 2017


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According to Ofcom’s latest report into children’s media literacy, older children are less trusting of news on social media than from other sources and employ a range of measures to separate fact from fiction, Ofcom research has found.

The report also shows that more children are using the internet than ever before. Nine in ten (92% of 5- to 15-year-olds) are online in 2017 – up from 87% last year. Much of this growth is driven by the increased use of tablets: 65% of 3-4s, and 75% of 5-7s now use these devices at home – up from 55% and 67% respectively in 2016.

Ofcom report 2016


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According to Ofcom’s latest report into children’s media literacy, the internet has overtaken television as the top media pastime for children in the UK.

The report also shows that YouTube is now the most popular online destination for children to watch content with around three quarters (73%) of those aged 5-15 using the video site. The report also reveals that a third (34%) of pre-schoolers (aged 3-4) own their own media device – such as a tablet or games console.

Ofcom report 2015


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This Ofcom report examines children’s media literacy.

It provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15, as well as information about the media access and use of young children aged 3-4. It also includes findings relating to parents’ views about their children’s media use.

SID – Power of Image report

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The Safer Internet Day 2017 report aims to explore the role of images and videos in young people’s digital lives and the influence this can have on their self-esteem, behaviour and emotions.

The findings reveal how important images and videos are in young people’s digital lives, demonstrating the positive role this plays as well as the risks and pressures they may face as a result.

SID – Creating a Better Internet

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The Safer Internet Day 2016 reveals young people’s experiences online – both positive and negative. In particular the study explores young people’s exposure and attitudes to the topic of online hate targeted at people or communities because of their gender, transgender identity, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

SID – Friendship in digital age

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The Safer Internet Day 2015 study into Friendship in a Digital Age reveals that 30% of young people have been on the receiving end of mean online behaviour in the past year.

UK Screen time guidance 

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Based on research into children’s screen-based activities commissioned in 2018, the UK Chief Medical Office has given advice for parents and carers on how to help children develop balanced screen use.

Screen time report 

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This report provides insight on parents’ concerns and understanding of the issue of children’s screen time use.

It highlights what both children and parents feel are the challenges and benefits as they get older and become more proficient online.