Children who are allowed to manage their own online activity are more likely to be ‘resilient’ to potentially harmful or inappropriate content online, according to new research.
Virgin Media commissioned the first academic study of its kind, which found that nurturing resilience in young people is vital for their development and constructive online engagement.
The survey of over 2,000 children aged 14 to 17, conducted by the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute (OII), found that young people who self-regulate their media use are more likely to seek out opportunities online – such as learning new skills, building and maintaining social ties and expressing and developing their identities.
The study also found that supportive and enabling parenting plays a key role in determining how young people approach digital contexts.
The research comes six years after the publication of the Byron Review, which set out strategic objectives to help make the internet a safer place for children.
These included reducing the availability of harmful and inappropriate material online, restricting access to such harmful material, and increasing children’s resilience to the material they may be exposed to so they have the confidence and skills to navigate the online world safely.
“A good deal has changed since the landmark 2008 Byron Report. Parent controls are now available from major broadband providers and new technologies built into devices afford caregivers new levels of control over what young people are exposed to online,” said Dr Andrew Przybylski, research fellow at the OII and lead author of the report.
“In the interim, less attention has focused on the factors that might empower young people online, to be both resilient to risks and to actively pursue the positive possibilities of online engagement. Our findings indicated that warm and unconditional parenting fostered a resilient approach to online activities.”