The stranger danger scare easily applies to a random creepy person your kid might run into on the street. Most kids know better than to go near them. But what happens when a friend — someone they’ve been opening up to for months, building a solid, trusting emotional relationship — wants to meet in real life? How does a parent deal with classmates who’ve created a group on social media dedicated solely to humiliating, embarrassing, and spreading rumors about their child?
This is where you’ll learn all the most recent information on internet safety for kids and the real scale of potential threats. We collected information from reputable sources: comparative studies with over 100,000 participants, government websites, child protective services, and cybersecurity companies. In addition, we examined all aspects of children’s online behavior, including smartphone ownership, time spent online, time spent on social networks, and positive as well as negative online experiences.
We took notice of the demographics: data on kids’, tweens’, and teens’ age, gender, and country, including the US, China, Brazil, and Italy. You’ll see detailed descriptions of kids’ exposure to the most common online threats, including cyberbullying, scams, adult content, and online predators.
We also listed just how aware both kids and parents are of issues like online safety for kids, cyberbullying, and children’s overall online presence. Do kids turn to their parents when they need help with online harassment? Do parents talk to their kids about how to stay safe online? Do they use parental control software? To what degree?
We conclude with some tips on staying safe on the internet. We also included tools and resources that can help you monitor and optimize your kids’ online behavior. We want to help them make the most of the internet without falling victim to its many pitfalls.
Top Child Safety Statistics To Takeaway
70% of kids encounter sexual or violent content online while doing homework research
17% of tweens (age 8-12) received an online message with photos or words that made them feel uncomfortable, only 7% of parents were aware of this
65% of 8-14 year-olds have been involved in a cyberbullying incident
36% of girls and 31% of boys have been bullied online
16% of high school students have considered suicide because of cyberbullying
75% of children would share personal information online in exchange for goods and services
How To Keep Kids Safe online Statistics
The Threat: How Can We Keep Children Safe from Online Predators?
1. 1 out of 7 children have sent messages with sexual content, while 1 in 4 admit they’ve received these kinds of messages.
A 2018 study came to these worrying conclusions. In 39 studies (with 110 ,380 participants), kids aged 11 to 17 were surveyed. A sext can include language, photos, or videos featuring sexual content. These kids’ unwitting decisions can ruin lives, and damage their self-esteem, even future career prospects. This is why they need to understand how to be safe on the internet.
Sometimes kids send pictures consensually, but after a breakup or a disagreement, a friend or a boyfriend can post them online. The aggressor’s motivation could be revenge, pettiness, jealousy, or even a minor disagreement. Once the explicit pics are on the web, users can download them, take screenshots, and forward them.
2. 20% of teenagers have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves.
According to Guard Child, 26% of teenagers don’t believe that the person to whom they sent the pics will forward them to someone else. This trust is so complete that 15% of teens have sent or posted this objectionable content to someone they only knew online. A number of online friends can turn out to be adults, adults posing as kids, classmates, or ex-partners who end up harboring a grudge.
3. 11% of young teen girls aged 13–16 have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves.
Kids as young as 13 are particularly vulnerable when it comes to outside influence. This includes strangers who’ve built a relationship with them over time, as well as their peers and classmates. Kids seek approval, and this need sometimes outweighs common sense. One of the main conversations you need to have with your kid, therefore, will start with the obvious question, “Why is internet safety important?” Explain the far-reaching consequences of their actions, and help them understand how to protect themselves.
4. The prevalence of forwarding a sext to others without consent is 12%, while only 8.4% of kids admitted someone forwarded a sext to them.
So much for trust, right? It turns out that peers and even adults posing as peers can ask for explicit pictures of teenagers and then forward them to others without their consent. If you care about how to keep your kids safe online and on their phones, you must consider this stat.
What’s worse, many kids don’t realize that this is illegal. According to the Department of Justice and Crime Prevention, “if a child aids, abets, induces, incites, instigates, instructs, commands, counsels, or procures another child to take and send such a photo of the latter to the first child or another person, he or she will be guilty of an offense.”
A conviction may lead to a hefty fine, but that’s not the worst part. In particularly nasty cases, a conviction might lead to imprisonment or even registration with the National Register for Sex Offenders. Sometimes, cyber safety for kids includes making sure your kid is neither the victim nor the aggressor.
5. Suicide is the second most common cause of death in adolescents aged 15–19.
Kids are in more danger of killing themselves than of dying of any sort of disease. The “deal with it” or “get over it” attitude can only take you so far. In fact, cyberbullying and harassment have conclusively been linked to depression. Regardless of your attitude, the numbers show that internet safety for kids should be on every parent’s mind.
According to a 2018 paper by Young Minds, young people who use social media are most vulnerable to a low sense of well-being, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. In 2012, 15-year-old Audrie Pott commit suicide after she had been sexually assaulted at a party eight days prior. The boys who assaulted her posted nude pictures of her online, and accompanied them with bullying and cyberbullying.
Her death was one of the tragedies that started an avalanche, making people around the US face the real danger of cyberbullying and address how to keep kids safe online. In 2016, a documentary titled Audrie and Daisy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, detailing the experiences of Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, a girl with similar experiences who lived.
If you, your friends, your child, or your friend’s child are experiencing any of the types of bullying or cyberbullying we’ve discussed, you can get support by calling a suicide hotline number or the national suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) or by using their chat option, available 24/7 across the US. Trained, experienced individuals will offer compassion, advice, and useful resources.
6. Only 25% of the children who’ve received a sexual solicitation told a parent.
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, even though kids may place too much trust in peers and even strangers online, the same does not apply to parents. The fear of an overreaction, being blamed, or even something like having internet access taken away can stop kids from asking for help.
7. 20% of teens have met up with an online friend in person.
It’s important that your child knows how to stay safe on the internet. However, what happens when online dangers become a problem offline? Agreeing to meet a stranger can be a whole new level of dangerous.
8. A 2015 Pew Research Center report exploring friendship in the digital age conducted a survey involving kids aged 13 to 17. 57% have met a new friend online.
Considering this, it’s no wonder that at least some of them feel comfortable extending that friendship to their offline lives. Making sure you know who your kids are interacting with is certainly among our internet safety tips for raising teens.
9. 1 in 4 stalking victims also reported some form of cyberstalking, often taking place via email (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
People might check social media profiles of their crushes or employees, jokingly referring to this as cyberstalking. But this couldn’t be further from the real danger. Today, the United States has cyberstalking and cyberharassment legislature.
Did you know that the pictures you share online can be traced to your location, even if you don’t tag it on Facebook? Smartphone location services place a stamp that can be used by computer-savvy web users to find out where a kid is located. To prevent cyberstalking, consider using a VPN, a type of software that encrypts data traffic, making it difficult for others to access your data.
10. The time spent online by the average American has risen from 9.4 hours weekly in 2000 to 23.6 hours.
That’s almost 24 hours per week, an entire day. As more and more people spend their lives online, the web is becoming a perfect hunting ground for predators to find victims and cause harm. According to most cyberbullying facts, they often do so with impunity. The time spent surfing the web at home has increased from 3.3 to 17.6 hours a week. And that’s another disadvantage: the comfort of our own home used to shield people from predators. Today, as more and more of our daily activities become dependent on the internet—including work, paying the bills, and shopping—we’re running low on safe spaces.
11. Young people aged 16–24 spend an average of 34.3 hours a week on the internet.
Cyber victimization is usually associated with young people and children. Since this age group spends more time online than adult users, and is generally less experienced and often acts on impulse, they make for easier targets. The explosion of social media also plays a part.
12. Identity theft statistics indicate that minors who have experienced cyberbullying are 9 times more likely to be victims of identity fraud too.
Research by Javelin Strategy & Research revealed that more than 1 million children fell victims to identity fraud in 2017. These confirmed a direct correlation between cyberbullying and this type of criminal activity. The phenomenon behind this figure is called fraping. The term derives from “Facebook” and “rape,” and it refers to the act of logging into somebody’s social network account without their consent and then impersonating them online. They might post pictures and videos or like and comment on existing posts. Conversely, they can also remove certain posts, etc.
The Cyberbullying Threat
13. 34% of kids in the US have experienced cyberbullying at least once.
As cyberbullying facts like these imply, young internet users need a better understanding of what sort of behavior from their peers and others is inappropriate. And if this number seems high, you’ve got another thing coming: the National Crime Prevention Council concluded that the actual percentage is much higher, amounting to 43%. Kids seem to underestimate where they ought to draw the line. Lack of education on the subject is, therefore, one of the reasons people underreport cyberbullying.
14. About 25–30% of young people have admitted to experiencing or taking part in cyberbullying.
In a cyberbullying research study by the University of British Columbia, only 12% of the respondents were also involved in traditional bullying. According to the study, cyberbullying is a significant problem, often more damaging than traditional bullying. This figure doesn’t include the relatively innocent bystanders who witnessed attacks like threats, public embarrassment, or humiliation. But keep in mind, the number of witnesses adds to a victim’s anxiety. Even when a person disconnects from the internet, their reputation continues to be crushed behind their backs.
15. Only 1 in 10 young victims of cyberbullying will tell a parent or a trusted adult about their online abuse.
Kids and adolescents seem to think that the embarrassment of reporting internet bullying outweighs the help they can get if they come clean. With so few reported cases, we expect that reality is much worse than even the worrying stats we have on this subject. One indicator of just how helpless and alone victims feel is that only 7% of US parents are worried about cyberbullying.
16. Fewer than one-fifth of cyberbullying incidents have been reported to law enforcement.
Even though there’s no federal law on cyberbullying, there absolutely is one that covers cyberstalking. It stipulates the various ranges of imprisonment for anyone who uses electronic communications technology to engage in stalking. This includes conduct that places a person, an immediate family member, or a spouse or intimate partner in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury or “causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to a person.”
17. 95% of youths said their hurtful online behavior was only intended as a joke.
Only 5% of respondents engaged in cyber bullying to hurt people. This is another critical difference between online and offline bullying. Offline bullying involves a need for power and dominance, as well as aggression. It also tends to involve face-to-face interaction, even when spreading rumors and false accusations.
Technology as a mediator of cyberbullying desensitizes aggressors in a number of ways. They want to joke around, rather than display aggression. They also don’t get the chance to see the victims’ reaction, and potentially feel sympathy and stop.
18. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 14,000 of Massachusetts’s nearly 1 million K–12 students admitted they’d been bullied.
In light of these kinds of discoveries, there are talks of a bill that would require schools to teach the effects of cyberbullying in US schools. After all, there’s a stark contrast between the figure above and the 2,031 incidents that were actually reported in the 2017–18 school year. It’s hard to say how much of this number is due to students not reporting this type of bullying and how much of it is from schools pushing the problem under the rug. Either way, it’s vital to acknowledge that 12% of the CDC study’s respondents considered committing suicide as a result of the harassment.
19. When US teenagers are cyberbullied, this often includes offensive name calling (42%), spreading false rumors (32%), and receiving unwanted explicit images (25%).
The Pew Research Center provided these cyberbullying statistics after they surveyed 743 teens between the ages of 13 and 17, as well as 1,058 parents. Name calling and rumor spreading have been with us since the dawn of human civilization. In the case of marginalized individuals, however, comments based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability sometimes also qualify as a hate crime.
20. Adolescent girls are about twice as likely as boys to be both the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
A 2018 study from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, found that teenage girls are more likely to be the victims of cyberbullying. What’s worse, they are also more likely to develop emotional problems as a result of online attacks.
21. A whopping 64% of cyberbullying victims say that it “really affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.”
This nationwide survey among 5,400 US teens should raise the alarm. Schools are supposed to be sanctuaries, where teachers sow the seeds of knowledge in the sprouting minds of our young ones. So it’s distressing when these cyberbullying statistics show just how many kids are bullied online during the most important years of their development.
22. Of those bullied in the last year, 37% developed social anxiety and 36% fell into depression.
What is cyberbullying doing to people’s mental health? A cyberbully cannot see the victim’s immediate reaction to the persistent, damaging content they dish out. However, bullied youth are forced to re-enter school, an offline environment, knowing they’d been shamed and humiliated online. This shift can generate mild to severe social anxiety.
Kids tend to exclude themselves from group activities to avoid the real-life shame of interacting with peers after their reputation is smeared. In the UK, teens have reported self-harm and anxiety and even developed eating disorders as a consequence of cyberbullying in schools. As many as 41% of teens say cyberbullying made them feel depressed.
23. High school girls of color make up 210 out of 1000 cyberbullying victims.
As many as 46% of women under 25 and 40% of women from a black or minority ethnic (BME) group claim they were bullied on Facebook at least once. Racism, chauvinism, and sexism are still at large on social media, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. Persons of color have to put up with additional pressure while socializing on online platforms, a sadly accurate reflection of offline issues as well.
24. 42% of LGBTQ youth have experienced cyberbullying.
The so-called bias-based bullying is a huge problem for LGBTQ+ youth as well. These kids experience nearly three times as much cyberbullying and harassment their non-LGBTQ friends. And how can we begin to learn how to stop cyberbullying when even the adults refuse to help specific victims? According to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), 63.5% of LGBTQ students have reported homophobic comments from teachers and school staff, the people who are supposed to set an example. It’s no wonder then that 63.5% of the LGBTQ students who did end up reporting homophobic incidents were met with inaction.
25. Cyberbullying makes young people more than twice as likely to commit self-harm or attempt suicide.
We’ve come to the bleakest cyberbullying facts. Researchers at three major universities—Oxford, Swansea, and Birmingham—joined forces to discover the true consequences of cyberbullying. They reviewed previous studies that involved more than 150,000 people under 25 across 30 countries over a 21-year period. They learned that cyberbullying increased the risk of self-harm, suicidal ideation, or suicidal behavior by 2.3 times.
26. Suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide among people aged 15–29 years, making up 8% of all deaths.
Only the tenth leading cause of death in adults, suicide is a huge concern when it comes to young people. The act of publicly humiliating, stalking, mocking, or harassing young people into fitting in with dominant social norms amounts to putting out a fire with gasoline.
Cyberbullying and Social Media Safety
27. 38% of young people reported that social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves.
And that’s 38% in ideal circumstances, not counting the bullying. Only 23% of kids reported that social media has an overall positive impact on their lives, and 46% of girls stated that social networking damages their self-esteem.
28. 90% of teens who participate in social media have ignored the bullying they’ve witnessed.
Out of said 90%, a third have been victims of cyberbullying themselves. The grin and bear it attitude surrounding this phenomenon has led to many damaging consequences for kids and parents, even though cyberbullying can seem silly to a casual observer.
So what can be done when friends aren’t willing to help? Keep in mind that young people aged 16–24 spend an average of 34.3 hours a week on the internet. For teens, cyberbullying is a real problem. Their online presence is at least equally important as how they appear in real life. It should come as no surprise, then, that kids who’ve experienced cyberbullying can develop serious conditions, including anxiety and depression. Friendships are destroyed, and in some cases, leaked photos and videos can even cause long-term damage to a kid’s reputation as an adult.
29. More than 80% of kids who have mobile phones use social networking services.
This figure increases to 93% for children who have smartphones. A 2018 report from the Pew Research Center shows that teens agree that they spend too much time on social media and their mobile phones. Even 60% of kids from ages 13 to 17 think their time spent online is a “major” issue for them.
30. 95% of schools already impose some kind of restriction on mobile phones during the school day.
Every school implements its own internet safety practices. Some merely install parental control onto the school’s Wi-Fi, while others forbid mobile phone use during school hours altogether. Schools want to ensure that kids are safe from risks like cyberbullying, online grooming, and harmful content. Grooming stands for “when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or trafficking.” Internet safety for elementary students and middle and high schoolers is impor