Pupils say social media sites do not protect them from porn and bullying

27th April 2017 at 00:01
social media, safeguarding, internet, safety, nspcc, pupils, porn, bullying, self-harm
More needs to be done to safeguard students from sexual content and hurtful messages, survey finds

Four-in-five pupils do not think that social media companies are doing enough to protect them from pornography, bullying and self-harm, new research shows.

Of the 1,696 secondary school pupils surveyed, 81 per cent said that social media sites needed to do more to protect young users from inappropriate or harmful content.

The children rated websites ASKfm, Omegle, IMVU and Facebook as being the most risky.

One 16-year-old girl said of ASKfm: “It had no strict controls, which led to lots of hurtful messages being spread about people, which I believe contributed to people self-harming or just feeling negative about themselves.”

A 15-year-old also said of the same website: “I hate the fact that someone can say things to you, but not show their name.”

'A few dodgy experiences'

And an 18-year-old user of avatar-based community website IMVU said: “Lots of adults are sexual through their characters – talking about sex and also drugs. This can be true even if they know you’re very young.

“I had a few dodgy experiences and you never know when this could carry over into offline life.”

Despite speaking about the risks of these websites, 87 per cent of the pupils surveyed said that they knew how to keep themselves safe online.

But children’s charity NSPCC, which commissioned the survey along with mobile-phone company O2, encouraged parents and teachers to research the more obscure apps that children might be using.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Social media is a great way for young people to stay in touch with their friends. But our research clearly shows that children do not feel that they are shielded from upsetting, dangerous and adult content.”

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