Young People, Internet Use and Wellbeing; A Report Series - Technology in the Home

A report prepared for SWGfL by Prof. Andy Phippen, April 2019

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Executive Summary

This report, the third in a series related to the relationship between digital technologyand young people’s wellbeing, draws from a survey sample of 9154 young people from year 2 to year 13 across over 100 schools in the UK. The focus of this report is families – the role of technology in the family home to manage concerns around online safety and interactions around digital technology use. We also draw from a separate survey conducted by Mumsnet to get a more detailed parental perspective on concerns and how they manage them.

Key highlights from this analysis include, from the parental perspective:

  • Parents have a range of concerns related to both harmful content and potentially damaging contact
  • Parents make use of a broad range of technical measures and “house rules” to manage online risks
  • Parents of very young children are less likely to be concerned about online risks than those of older children

Young people present a complimentary, albeit somewhat conflicting as they grow older:

  • Young people are likely to turn to their parents for help until they reach teenaged years
  • As young people get older, they believe they know more about digital technology than their parents
  • Young people become more and more confident about bypassing technical house rules as they get older
  • There may be evidence to suggest as children get older they aren’t aware their internet access is being monitored.

The significant message from this analysis is that while house rules help, and technology provides some valuable tools to help address some concerns (such as access to harmful content), as young people get older, they will learn to bypass these “reassurances” for parents and become less confident in their parent’s support if things go wrong. We also know that tools and rules will do less to prevent contact risks, such as grooming and bullying, two things parents are very concerned with. Tools and rules are no replacement for open dialogue. They can only ever be part of the solution.