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10 Myths about Internet Safety and Children

Following a survey of 25000 children and their parents across Europe, a report was published called EU Kids Online; researchers aimed to provide information for policy makers about educating children and adults about online risks and opportunities. The research project was based at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and made a series of recommendations to governments, business, parents and teachers ranging from "more user-friendly parental controls and online safety features to ensuring children also lead a rich life away from the computer."

Included in the Report are the Top 10 Myths about online safety because in many cases, the researchers concluded that parents and adults in general are worried about the wrong things. The following 10 Myths were published by EU Kids Online.

1. Digital Natives Know It All
Only 36 per cent of 9 to 16 year old children say it is very true that they know more about the internet than their parents. This myth obscures children’s needs to develop digital skills.

2. Everyone is Creating Their Own Content
The study showed that only one in five children had recently used a file-sharing site or created an avatar, and half that number wrote a blog. Most children use the internet for ready-made content.

3. Under 13s Can’t Use Social Networking Sites
Although many sites (including Facebook) say that users must be aged at least
13, the survey showed that age limits don’t work – 38 per cent of 9 to12 year old children have a social networking profile. Some argue age limits should be scrapped to allow greater honesty and protective action.

4. Everyone Watches Porn Online.
One in seven children saw sexual images online in the past year. Even allowing for under-reporting, this myth has been partly created by media hype.

5. Bullies are Baddies
The study shows that 60 per cent who bully (online ' cyber bullying ' or offline) have themselves been bullied. Bullies and victims are often the same people.

6. People you Meet on the Internet are Strangers.
Most online contacts are people children know face-to-face. Nine per cent met offline people they’d first contacted online – most didn’t go alone and only one per cent had a bad experience.

7. Offline Risks Migrate Online
This is not necessarily true. While children who lead risky offline lives are more likely to expose themselves to danger online, it cannot be assumed that those who are low-risk offline are protected while online.

8. Putting the PC in the Living Room Will Help
Children find it so easy to go online at a friend’s house or on a smartphone that this advice is out of date. Parents are better advised to talk to their children about their internet habits or join them in some online activity.

9. Teaching Digital Skills Reduces Online Risk
Actually the more digital skills a child has, the more risks they are likely to encounter as they broaden their online experience. What more skills can do is reduce the potential harm that risks can bring.

10. Children Can Get Around Internet Safety Software
In fact, fewer than one in three 11 to 16 year old children say they can change filter preferences. And most say their parents’ actions to limit their internet activity is helpful.