Survey: British kids text non-stop, add strangers to Facebook friends’ lists

survey british kids text non stop add strangers to facebook friends lists young girls operating cell phones with a boy  10 14How many of your Facebook friends have you actually met?

The answer, I suspect, depends on many factors: the amount of time you spend online and what you use Facebook for, amongst many others. But a new study from the UK has found that the average 12 to 15 year old in Britain has never met one out of every four of their Facebook friends – but, despite that, more than 90 percent of them feel confident about their level of online security.

The study comes from British telecommunication and media regulator, Ofcom. Titled Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, it demonstrated the amazingly high use of technology in modern communications between pre- and early-teens in the United Kingdom. For example, the report reveals that texting is the most popular form of communication between those aged between 12 and 15, with the average youth in that age group sending almost 200 texts a week, double the average of the same age group in 2011. In terms of gender, that breaks down as girls being the far more prolific texters, sending around 221 messages per week on average, with boys sending approximately two thirds of that amount; both genders are far above the adult average, however, which is closer to somewhere in the region of 5o texts per week.

The percentage of smartphone ownership has also risen significantly in that age group, up 50 percent when compared with last year. Ofcom now estimates that around two thirds of Britons aged between 12 and 15 owns a smartphone. “Areas such as texting and smartphone ownership [among teenagers] are fast outstripping the general population,” said Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer group director. “This highlights the challenge that some parents face in keeping up with their children when it comes to technology, and in understanding what they can do to protect children.”

Overall, around 80 percent of parents in the UK feel that they have appropriate levels of control over their children’s Internet usage, even though less than 50 percent have any form of parental controls installed on the devices their children use to access the Internet. With the survey reporting that 80 percent of kids ages 12-15 (and 40 percent of kids aged 5 to 15) have both Internet access and their own social media profiles, that’s perhaps something that may change in the coming months. Of the 80 percent of 12 through 15 year-olds, those with social media accounts have an average of 286 online friends – even though, as pointed out above, they would only consider three quarters of that number “actual” friends, with an average of 72 complete strangers being attached to each account. Nevertheless, 93 percent of those asked feel that they are confident in their personal security online.

The full report is available here; it would be fascinating to see a similar study performed in the US, and see how well the percentages line up – and use that as a guide towards a seemingly more trusting, less personal Internet future.

Social Media

Your Facebook newsfeed is getting a spring cleaning, and so is Messenger

Hows that newsfeed looking? Facebook has shared an update on efforts to clean up the newsfeed, as well as what tools are coming next. Facebook has new Trust Indicators, while Messenger gains badges for verified accounts.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Mobile

The Department of Justice may prevent the T-Mobile-Sprint merger

T-Mobile and Sprint are getting closer to merging. After a few failed attempts, the two companies announced their merger at the start of 2018. The new T-Mobile could be better positioned to take on the likes of Verizon and AT&T.
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.
Social Media

LinkedIn: Now you can express love, curiosity, and more with new Reactions

LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Facebook (three years later!) with the rollout of new reactions that give users more ways to express themselves when responding to posts in their feed.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.