According to a study done by Ofcom in the UK, one-third of internet users between 12 and 15 have been exposed to hate speech online.
Too much trust on Google
NSPCC, a charity trying to end child abuse said that the results of the study was “very worrying,” and they added that hate speech should not be tolerated online.
The study also suggested that children might be putting too much trust on Google. They believed that if a link was on the search engine, then it’s a trusted source.
It was also the first time that the internet has overtaken television as the most popular pastime for children. This information is alarming as more and more children are being exposed to hate speech online at a young age.
There should be stricter rules
The NSPCC adds that social networking sites and apps such as Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, and Facebook should have stricter rules when it comes to the content that they allow.
Jane Rumble, director of market intelligence for Ofcom, shared that: “Children’s lives are increasingly digital, with tablets and smartphones commanding more attention than ever.”
A Youtube spokesperson added that children under 13 were not allowed to have a Youtube account, and that it has developed an app specifically for children for a more “controlled experience.”
They add, “Bullying, harassment and hate speech have no place on the YouTube platform and we have clear policies against harassing and hateful content, which we remove when it’s flagged.”
How can we protect our kids?
With the internet slowly becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, we have to be more careful about the things that our children are getting exposed to. Getting exposed to hate speech, violence, or sexual activity at a very young age can cause children to misunderstand important concepts.
Here are some guidelines to help you protect your kids online:
- Lessen screen time. Ideally, kids should spend around 2 hours online every day. Encourage them to go out with their friends or have them take up an instrument or a creative pursuit.
- Encourage family time and other activities. Instead of going on social media or watching videos on Youtube, encourage your kids to engage in family time. These activities bring your family closer, and also limit your kid’s exposure to the internet.
- Be there to guide your kids. If possible, make sure to be with your kids as they browse different sites online. That way, you can guide them on which sites are safe and unsafe.
- Know the sites they visit. Make sure that you know which sites your kids visit so that you can be sure that they’re not being exposed to violence, hate, or sexual activity at a young age.
- Tell them to ask you about things they don’t know about. Make it a point to tell your kids to ask you if they see or read about unfamiliar things online. That way you can guide them better about certain topics or issues instead of just relying on a Google search.
Sources: bbc.com, ft.com, familyeducation.com, netsafe.org.nz