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Resilience way to go in online bully fight

Press Association logoPress Association 30/06/2017

Trying to protect young people from all online risks may be futile with a UK report showing 95 per cent of teenagers conduct their 'online' lives in private on computers in their bedrooms or on smartphones.

More than a third of British 15-year-olds are now "extreme internet users" spending six hours a day outside of school hours inhabiting the online world mainly through social media sites Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, the UK's Education Policy Institute study found.

Ninety five per cent of this group used these social media sites before and after school everyday.

This is among the heaviest usage in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with only children in Chile using the internet more, the study found.

"This online activity is increasingly private, with young people using the internet in their bedrooms or on a smartphone," the report found.

"The rise in popularity of instant messaging means that online discussions are now often held in private groups, rather than on public profiles."

To address the risks that come with such high usage - negative mental health impacts and cyber bullying - the study's experts say public policy must shift towardsbuilding resilience in young people so they can withstand the knocks.

The rise of new technology, like livestreaming, also means young young are connect differently on social media making it harder to protect them from dangers.

"It is therefore likely to be futile to attempt to protect children and young people from all online risks," the study found.

A 2015 UK Office for National Statistics report found a "clear association" between time spent on social media and mental health problems.

"While 12% of children who spend no time on social networking websites have symptoms of mental ill health, the figure rises to 27% for those who are on the sites for three or more hours a day," the 2015 report found.

But the study also notes the benefits of social media on young people's emotional wellbeing as it can enable them to connect with others to improve online social skills, develop their character and resilience, and collaborate on school projects.

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