By Internet Matters Team on
A new survey from not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters today shows the hidden pressures facing children in their relationships, as it launches new resources to help parents teach their kids about ‘digital resilience’.
Among the revelations, the survey found 1 in 5 children (20%) would consider having an ‘online-only’ relationship – where they would never meet their partner face to face.
And out of those who have a boyfriend or girlfriend now or previously, one in 10 (10%) said they only ever communicated with them online. Meanwhile almost half (46%) said that they always or often post images of themselves having a great time and 34% agreed they spent time making their images look perfect before posting.
The survey* was carried out by Internet Matters to highlight the importance of children building their digital resilience so they can cope independently with the ups and downs of growing up online.
Positively, over half (52%) of children credited tech and social media for making it easier to sustain a relationship – with 62% hailing the benefits of being able to chat online “at any time day or night”, and 41% agreeing it is easier to open up about their feelings online than face to face.
And a quarter of children (24%) said they find it easier to find love on the internet – and once they do, seven out of 10 (71%) said they go online to chat with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The survey also found:
The new toolkits offer parents age-specific tips and an easy-to-follow video guide from psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos. The step-by-step videos encourage parents to teach their children how to become digitally resilient and prepare them for issues they may face online as they experience key life moments.
Digital resilience is about parents setting norms for a child, helping them form values online and providing them with consistent and adequate coping strategies for the ever-changing online world.
Internet Matters ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos said: “These figures reveal just how much relationships have changed as a result of the internet and social media and how children are continually facing new challenges.
“First love has always been a minefield – and even more so in the digital age when it’s all about sharing your life online. With all the benefits this brings, there will be times that children need to be resilient against the bad stuff that happens.
“By building a child’s digital resilience, parents will not only help keep their child safe online but essentially empower them to navigate digital issues on their own.”
Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, said: “We found that the majority of children see the role the internet plays when they build relationships as a positive thing. Yet some may not have the emotional maturity to understand some of the problems they might face.
“We’re pleased to have worked with Dr Linda Papadopoulos to provide practical resources which will hopefully help parents guide their children to become digitally resilient and cope with challenges they face online but also know when to seek support. The key thing is for parents to talk to their children, and our resources enable them to do more confidently.”