Safer Internet Day is approaching this February and as we look forward to teaching important messages on online safety, we wanted to take time to reflect on how the digital lives of young people have changed during lockdown and school closures.
Ofcom recently released Children’s Media Life During Lockdown. The aim of this study way to find out how the media lives of children has changed during the covid-19 pandemic and the months spent in lockdown.
This study drew from interviews with 14 children who were chosen to reflect a broad cross section of the UK in terms of age, location, ethnicity, social circumstances and access to technology.
The children were aged between 9 – 16, and the interviews were taken between May – July 2020. The report outlines how children’s relationship with the internet has developed during lockdown, and highlights some areas of increased risk.
Here’s our summary of some of the key findings from the study that we feel are particularly relevant for teachers, parents and carers to know about:
Most children in the study lacked routine and structure in their day and filled their time with online activities.
Children learning remotely were not doing as much school work, so most children in the study were lacking routine and filled their time with online activities.
Many children in the study were spending a lot of time on their devices, and getting into the habit of waking up later the next day.
Parents in the study talked about relaxing the usual rules they would have around internet usage. They explained that this was a hard time for their children, and they wanted to ‘pick their battles’ around when to set rules.
One parent said:
“If my child does their five pieces of schoolwork each day, then do you know what? If they stay up a bit late and eat a bit of crap, and they watch a bit of TV and they do a bit more gaming, then we’re not going to kill ourselves.” – Mum of Ben (12)
TikTok was incredibly popular, rivalling other social media platforms.
Many children reported spending several hours on TikTok each day. The majority of children in the study were posting their own content, sometimes copying videos they had seen on the platform.
One of the younger children in the study was Suzy, 9. Suzy would mainly copy videos that she had seen and upload them to TikTok. Her mum encouraged her to keep her account private, but she said that Suzy sometimes switched her account to public without telling her. During an interview Suzy said that some of the people on TikTok were ‘really famous’ and they could make ‘a lot of money’.
Socialising moved online.
Not surprisingly socialising moved online. This took the form of regular check-ins or online meetups.
- Many met up with friends via online games, and made use of ‘multi-screening’ to speak with their friends at the same time as playing games together.
- Some children reported people coming under pressure on social media due to breaking ‘rules’ during lockdown.
Body conscious exercise content was popular among teenage girls.
Some girls in the study talked openly about feeling insecure about their own bodies and feeling pressure from watching other people exercise on social media.
Many teenage girls reported that they started exercising more often during lockdown, explaining that they made use of exercise YouTube Channels.
But how were children engaging with news around COVID-19?
The report showed that after an initial surge in interest about the pandemic, most young people in the study disengaged from the news. Some explained this was because it was causing them to feel worried and anxious, and others due to lack of interest.
Many young people would receive news updates passively via social media, and some young people reported distrust in media outlets around coronavirus coverage.
So what’s next?
At OpenView Education we believe that a dynamic and responsive approach to internet safety education can help young people navigate these changes in their digital lives and the online challenges that these changes bring.
As education once again moves into the home, there is an increased onus on parents to take the lead in their children’s learning and many parents that we’ve spoken with have asked for more video led lessons to help guide their children’s education.
That’s why we are providing dynamic, engaging and high quality Press & Play Lessons on internet safety, created especially to celebrate Safer Internet Day. Our online package provides internet safety training for the whole school, with sessions for students, parents, carers and for staff.
The video led e-safety lessons can easily be sent home for parents to use at a time that works for them, and it makes it easy for them to revisit and review learning.
Learn more about our online internet safety training and education packages here.