InternetNZ study uncovers concerns around student experiences online

Internet NZ has released findings from their New Zealand’s Internet Insights 2020 study, and New Zealanders are expressing real concern around young people and their experiences online.

Many kiwis acknowledge the positive role technology and the internet plays in their lives, especially during the uncertainty that comes with alert levels and lockdowns. The ability to work from home, shop online and connect with friends and family are highlighted as key positive outcomes with 96% of kiwi internet users connecting daily and 70% saying that they utilise the internet daily for work.

The flip side of that increased flexibility, mobility and connectivity is that there is also an increased chance of encountering risk.

Anecdotally, parents have long raised concerns around the content young people can access online with relative freedom (including adult pornographic content). Interestingly, as part of their evidence from Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa – New Zealand Kids Online study, Netsafe found that despite parents expressing concern about young people’s activities online, there was significant underestimation from parents as to the extent of exposure. While 22% of parents understood their child has viewed gory or violent images, 36% of young people surveyed said they had. This is reflected across the board for other potentially harmful content.

Source: Netsafe: Parental awareness of child’s exposure to potentially harmful online content (children aged 13-17)

As part of the Parenting and Pornography report (2018), it was noted that 49% of parents surveyed were concerned about their child viewing sexual or naked content with 32% saying it popped up on their child’s device and 30% suggesting their child stumbled across it by accident. 

Only 10% felt it was accessed for sexual arousal with 7% suggesting their child searched for the content for entertainment. In contrast to these findings, the NZ Youth and Porn (2018) study found that 58% of young people said they were accidentally exposed to porn, 57% actively searched for it for entertainment while a whopping 76% accessed it to satisfy their curiosity.



The NZ Youth and Porn study found that over two-thirds of 14-17-year-olds have been exposed to pornography, with one in four viewing their first pornographic content before the age of 12. 75% have seen it by the age of 17 with one in 10 young kiwi kids becoming regular consumers by the time they were 14. For those who viewed it, 71% weren’t looking for it so were inadvertently exposed while online or had it shared with them. 

Almost three-quarters of teens who have viewed pornography saw things that made them feel uncomfortable, 42% wanted to spend less time viewing it and interestingly, that same study found that 71% of those young people surveyed felt that children’s access to pornography should be restricted.

These latest findings from InternetNZ, reflect these previous studies, finding that 40% of parents were extremely concerned about children accessing inappropriate content (up from 32% in 2019), 31% were concerned that the internet allowed young people access to extremist material and hate speech (up from 20% in 2019) with 22% expressed concern about young people accessing misleading information/ fake news (up from 14% in 2019).


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So what can concerned families and whānau do to better understand and support their young people as they explore, connect and experience life online?

Devices and online spaces are not going away, and despite many parents and caregivers having not grown up with the technology, it is vitally important that they gain insights into how young people interact online, where, when and with whom.  

Some of that comes through regular conversations, open communication and regular check-ins, and some come via the tools available. 

How your school can ensure digital wellbeing when it comes to learning online

While policies and student use agreements are important to your school’s overarching approach to online safety and wellbeing, protective and proactive measures, including ‘real-time’ monitoring and filtering, also play significant roles in ensuring learning environments are safe.  

Linewize’s suite of tools for schools & families provides your school with confidence that you are preventing harmful content from being accessed. Furthermore, it also provides the information and insight into student online activity you need to start conversations with students who exhibit harmful behaviours. 


6 Tips For Engaging Your Parent Community

Topics: Cyber Safety, New Zealand, Pornography, digital wellbeing

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