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More than half of 12-year-olds have posted live videos online, survey reveals

Date published: 24 May 2018


Social media companies need to act now to protect children after Barnardo’s revealed more than half of 12-year-olds have posted live videos on apps and websites meant for older children and adults.

A survey by YouGov found that, nationally, 57% of 12-year-olds and more than one-in-four children aged 10 (28%) have admitted live streaming content over the internet.

The results suggest thousands of younger children may be putting themselves at risk by sharing live videos on sites with a minimum age limit of 13. These include SnapChat, YouTube, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Musical.ly and Live.ly, which provide inadequate safety controls and settings.

In the North West, almost half (48%) of 10 to 16-year-olds have used a website or app to post live content. Almost a quarter (23%) say they or a friend have regretted it and more than a third (42%) said they are, or would be, worried that strangers could contact them, while 14% said nothing would worry them about livestreaming.

Of the young children aged 10-16 surveyed in the North West about their experiences of posting live content on apps and websites:

  • 30% say they have posted live content on Snapchat, 23% on Instagram Stories, 11% on Facebook Live, 15% on You Tube and 6% on Xbox Live.
  • When asked the reasons why they post live content, 55% said it was because it was fun and they enjoyed posting live content with their friends
  • When asked what worried them about posting live content, 33% said they worried they may be bullied because of the post, 53% worried that no one would ‘like’ or watch the post, and 29% worried that people may criticise the way they look in the post.
  • If someone they didn’t know asked them to post live content online through a website or app that they weren’t comfortable with, the children surveyed said the first thing they would do would be to speak to a trusted adult (31%), or block and report that person (20%). Only 2% said they would stop using that site.

Despite the recent announcement by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock that the government would produce a white paper about online safety, Barnardo’s says urgent action is needed to protect children now.

It is hoped the government’s internet safety white paper will force tech giants to provide compulsory child safety features, such as verifying users’ ages, but Barnardo’s says online companies need to act without delay to protect children who are accessing services inappropriate for their ages.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Live streaming is being used by predators to groom children online. We know from our specialist services that children are at risk of ‘live grooming’ on online platforms.

“Tech companies are simply not doing enough to keep children safe. Our research shows that children use livestreaming apps that are not appropriate for their ages so tech giants need to ensure they put robust age-verification rules in place.

“Theresa May vowed to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. We welcome Matt Hancock’s commitment to making this happen but new laws are not expected for at least two years and this is simply not good enough for the children who need protecting now.

“We need urgent action to protect the next generation of children - any delay to act could put another generation of children in danger online.”

Barnardo’s UK-wide child sexual exploitation services have seen a 38% year-on-year increase in the number of people they support and its research indicates nearly half of the children they help have been groomed online, with two thirds going on to be sexually abused offline.

Barnardo’s also insists that children are made aware of the dangers online in the delayed compulsory relationship and sex education lessons in all English schools that it successfully campaigned for. Three-quarters of children between the ages of 11 and 15 felt they would be safer if they had age-appropriate sex and relationship education (SRE), according to a YouGov poll for the charity last year.

Internet Matters chief executive, Carolyn Bunting said: “It is vital that parents keep on top of emerging trends in how children are communicating with one another online. Live streaming and broadcasting yourself live online presents new potential risks and challenges for parents who want to ensure their children are living a safe digital life. It is important they know exactly what those risks are and the advice that goes with them.

“Make sure you understand who is viewing your child’s broadcasts, that they are not giving away personal information that could lead to identification, such as home address or intimate daily routines, and that they know what to do and who to turn to if they are worried about something or if anything goes wrong.”

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