Ofcom’s annual report on internet usage in the UK, called Online Nation, showed that while nine in 10 households had access to the internet, eight in 10 adults have concerns regarding certain aspects of internet use.
The Online Nation report found that while 59% of the surveyed internet users believe that the benefits of going online are more than the risks associated with, 53% agree strongly that they are concerned about the internet.
Compared to the previous year’s survey, the percentage of adults expressing an unprompted concern about use of internet has gone up from 59% to 78%.
The Online Nation report was filed based on responses received from 2,057 adult internet users and 1,001 children.
A majority of adults, at 70%, want more regulation to be placed on social media sites and also on video sharing sites (64%) and instant messenger services (61%).
According to the Online Nation report, 61% of adults and 79% of 12 to 15-year-olds faced a potentially harmful experience online in the last 12 months.
When prompted, the percentage of adults expressing concern regarding harms to children on the internet increased to 83%. The biggest concern was bullying, abusive behaviour or threats, at 55%.
High levels of concern were also expressed about exposure of children to inappropriate content such as pornography, at 49%, violent or disturbing content, at 46%, and content promoting self-harm, at 42%. Four in 10 adults, at 39%, said that they are concerned about kids spending too much time on the internet.
When it comes to 12 to 15-year-olds, Online Nation report revealed that many of them faced potentially harmful behaviour from others on the internet. The report said that 28% of them had unwelcome ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ requests or unwanted contact, 23% had been subjected to bullying, abusive behaviour or threats, 20% were ‘trolled’, while 19% had experienced impersonations.
The Online Nation survey found that 15% of 12 to 15-year-olds had watched violent or disturbing content on the internet.
Ofcom’s Online Nation report read: “Social media sites, and Facebook in particular, are the most commonly-cited source of online harm for most of the types of potential harm we asked about. For example, 69% of adults who said they had come across fake news said they had seen it on Facebook. Among 12 to 15-year-olds, Facebook was the most commonly-mentioned source of most of the potentially harmful experiences.”