“Digital Natives lack online nous” says @Ofcom

A report was released by Ofcom yesterday into Children and Parents attitudes – and this was the accompanying press release (note, I’m not a particular fan of the term ‘digital native‘, especially the way that it’s used):

  • Children increasingly trusting of information they find online
  • One in ten believe everything they find on social media or apps is true
  • Most 12-15s unaware that ‘vloggers’ can be paid to endorse products

Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial.

Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes report, published today, reveals that children aged 8-15 are spending more than twice as much time online as they did a decade ago, reaching over 15 hours each week in 2015.

But even for children who have grown up with the internet – so-called digital natives – there’s room to improve their digital know-how and understanding.

For example, children do not always question what they find online. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.

Nearly one in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is “all true” – doubling from 4% in 2014.

Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for “true and accurate” information about what’s going on in the world. The video sharing site is the preferred choice for this kind of information among nearly one in ten (8%) online children, up from just 3% in 2014.

But only half of 12-15s (52%) who watch YouTube are aware that advertising is the main source of funding on the site, and less than half (47%) are aware that ‘vloggers’ (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

James Thickett, Ofcom’s Director of Research, said: “The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.”

Children’s online lives

Children aged 12-15 were split about whether being online helped them be themselves, with around one third (34%) agreeing and a similar amount (35%) disagreeing. The remaining 31% were unsure whether being online helped them be themselves or not.

Most 12-15s (72%) believe that most people behave differently when they’re online, with girls more likely to say this happens than boys (78% versus 67%).

More than two thirds (67%) of girls aged 12-15 with a social media account said there were things they dislike about social media. Nearly one in three (30%) were concerned about people spreading gossip or rumours and a quarter (23%) said people can be “nasty, mean or unkind to others”.

This compared with just over half of boys aged 12-15 (52%) reporting things they dislike about social media.

Many children are also concerned about spending too much time on the internet. Around one in ten online children aged 8-15 (9%) say they dislike spending too much time online, and nearly one in three 12-15s (31%) admit they can sometimes spend too much time on social media in particular.

Parents’ role in online safety

More than nine in ten parents of 8-15s (92%) manage their children’s internet use in some way – either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Nearly four in ten parents (38%) use all four approaches.

Among the technical tools used by parents are network-level content filters offered by broadband providers. Almost six in ten parents of 8-15s (56%) are aware of these parental controls, up from 50% in 2014, and a quarter (26%) use them, up from 21% in 2014.

It appears that the vast majority of children do hear the advice given about staying safe online. Some 97% of children aged 8-15 recall advice they’ve been given, particularly from parents.

The large majority (84%) of children aged 8-15 also say they would tell their parents, another family member or a teacher if they saw something online they found worrying, nasty or offensive. However, 6% of children say they would not tell anyone.

Download the full report (PDF). I’ll be adding this report, along with other articles I’m collecting on Wakelet, for when I’m ready to go onto edition 2 of Raising Children in a Digital Age


PRESS RELEASE: “Digital natives” turn to parents and teachers for digital literacy skills, new study finds (@MediaSmarts, #YCWW) #DigitalParenting

Well, we know what I think about the idea of a ‘digital native‘… I drew on Mediasmarts research in sections of my book, so was interested to see their latest research:


Ottawa, ON (March 31, 2014) – Canadian youth are not as digitally literate as adults may think they are, according to new research released today by MediaSmarts. Though today’s young people have grown up immersed in digital media, they still rely on parents and teachers to help them advance their skills in areas such as searching and verifying online information.

MediaSmarts, a Canadian not-for-profit organization, surveyed over 5,400 students in classrooms across the country on their Internet behaviours and attitudes for its Young Canadians in a Wired World study. The fourth report from the survey findings – Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’ Digital Literacy Skills – explores the level of young people’s digital literacy, how they are learning these skills and how well digital technologies are being used in classrooms to support digital literacy.

The research shows that although students are actively engaging with digital media through social networking, gaming and video streaming, they are learning and applying only the digital skills they consider essential to the context of the task. For example, across all age groups, youth use a variety of strategies to verify online information, but will often only put their skills to use if they see an immediate benefit to doing so, such as for a school project. Youth are eager to learn more skills, with teachers being one of their main sources of information; however, there are often technological barriers in the classroom such as blocked websites and a lack of access to digital devices.

“Young people are mistakenly considered experts in digital technologies because they’re so highly connected, but they are still lacking many essential digital literacy skills,” says Jane Tallim, Co-Executive Director of MediaSmarts, “Parents and teachers are playing a crucial role in teaching them to navigate the digital world, but we need to ensure that digital literacy programs reflect youth’s lived experiences so they will find the skills relevant enough to learn and apply them.”

Key findings include:

  • 53% of girls have learned how to search for information online from teachers compared to 38 percent of boys.
  • Parents (47%) and teachers (45%) are the main sources for learning about searching for information online.
  • 61% of students use more than one search engine to find information online.
  • 35% of students in grades 7-11 use advanced search engine tools.
  • 80% of students have received instruction in evaluating and authenticating online information.
  • 46% of students (29% in Grade 4 and 72% in Grade 11) agree with the statement, “Downloading music, TV shows or movies illegally is not a big deal”.
  • 36% say that they have had trouble finding something they need for their school work due to filtering software.
  • 41% of Grade 9 students say their teachers have used social media to help them learn.

To view the full report, infographic and slide show, visit Follow the conversation using hashtag #YCWW.

Young Canadians in a Wired World – Phase III: Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’Digital Literacy Skills was made possible by financial contributions from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Previous reports based on the Young Canadians in a Wired World student survey data focused on cyberbullying, online privacy and online interactions. They can be downloaded at Future reports will look at offensive content and online relationships.


#DigitalParenting: The Myth of the Digital Native (#SID2014)

book-cover-bex-400The CHILDWISE “Digital Lives” Report of 2010 proudly noted: “Today’s young children are born into a digital world, and have never known a time without the internet affecting all aspects of their daily life.” That may be true, but it tends to be translated into a kind of panic:

one step ahead in an area [technology] that has developed so much, as we have become parents and never navigated it before ourselves [as children]. (Parent, 19 or over)

We need to appreciate, however, that using technology doesn’t mean that we understand how it works, any more than driving a car means that we are mechanics. Terms have been coined such as “digital natives” or “net generation”, which all perpetuate this idea that every child knows what they are doing online. Parents seem to agree:

The children usually know more than we do, and I think that is one of the problems. Computers didn’t exist when I was at school, so I didn’t learn anything about them; I’ve as an adult, and probably steps behind my children! (Parent, 16 to 18, 19 or over)

had to learn everything sometimes I’ve been a few of parenting and realize that I will most likely be a step behind my digitally native children! However, with guidelines in place, I believe that digital 

(Parent, 2 or under, 3 to 5)

If we buy into the idea that children are “digital natives”, who are fundamentally different from “the rest of us”, we can cause serious confidence problems for parents. Traits such as collaboration, innovation, transparency, and openness are often ascribed to the younger generation, and they may indeed be found there, but research demonstrates that they can also be observed across all generations. The EU Kids Online study in 2012 found that only about 20 per cent of the 25,000 children they interviewed fitted this stereotype.5 I have observed many students who are entirely happy using social networks such as Facebook, but struggle to conduct effective online searches, something that has been evidenced by others at e-learning conferences. Every generation is different, but there are factors other than technology that may account for the differences.

Marc Prensky popularized the term “digital native” in 2001, referring to those in the US education system who had grown up surrounded by technology. A more useful idea has developed from a team at Oxford University led by Dave White: that of the “digital resident” and the “digital visitor”, defined more by attitude than by age. “Visitors” use the internet as a tool: go in to complete a task, and leave. “Residents” regard themselves as members of communities that exist online, rather than having access to an online toolbox.6 I am most definitely a digital resident, though I’m far too old to be a “digital native”.

(p60-62, Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst, released 21st February 2014)


No such thing as a 'digital native' .. not homogenous

digital-fingerprint-logoBeen seeing this story floating around over the last couple of days, and thought this one gave a decent overview:

Millennials may be the largest generational cohort in history, but they’re hardly homogenous. In a pivotal study, MTV unearthed two distinct groups within the generation. “The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On” investigates the shifting dynamics between older and younger Millennials and revealed that the new wave of Millennials, aged 13-17, is different from the older wave in key ways, including its unique relationship with technology and optimistic approach to the challenges in this group’s universe.

See the stats and read the story.


"Educators should not assume that all young people are old hands online…"

Child at laptopOh yes, have observed this first-hand, and tried to get this across in my book too:

This is something that teaching staff on campus seldom realise, Professor Junco said. “If we keep in mind that not all students have the same level of skill and facility with new technologies, then we behave in ways as educators that help level the playing field,” he said.

“One way this could play out is, if a student says to a professor, ‘Oh, I don’t know how to do that’, the professor might scoff and be irritated and say, ‘What do you mean? You know this more than I do.’ So if I am teaching a class and I say, ‘OK, we’re going to use Twitter’, it’s important for me to also be sure that all my students know what Twitter is.

Read full article.