Click and connect – young Australians' use of online social media

Youth Social media Cyberbullying Technology and youth Cyber safety Australia
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Children and young people have a high level of awareness of cybersafety risks and the key messages for staying safe online.

This ACMA report found that 75 per cent of children surveyed claim they know not to give out their address or phone number online and remember key safety messages such as ‘people aren’t always who they say they are online’.

‘Australian children are telling us the internet is part of their everyday lives, and as they approach high school, it’s increasingly important to their social lives. Up to 97 per cent of 16 to 17 year olds claim to use at least one social networking service,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.

Most young people are using online technologies as a way to connect with their real world friends, with a small proportion—17 per cent of 12 to 17 year olds—using online social networking to build networks of new friends.

 The report highlights an ongoing need for cybersafety material that resonates with young people, as well an improved flow of cybersafety information to parents.



The research was conducted in two parts—a qualitative phase and a quantitative phase.


Report's key findings

General internet use

  • As children age they spend more time online.
    • Children aged 8 to 9 years use the internet for an average of 1 hour, 6 mins every two days.
    • Young people aged 16 to 17 years average 3 hours, 30 mins on the internet every day.
  • Younger children are more interested in individual activities online, such as playing games—83 per cent of 8 to 11 year-olds reported online gaming as the most popular use of the internet
  • By comparison, young people aged 12 to 17 use the internet mainly for social interaction—81 per cent of 12 to 17 year olds nominated social networking services as their main reason for going online.

Social Networking Services

Social networking services refer to online services where ‘members’ can chat with each other via instant messaging, email, video or voice chat, share photos and videos and post comments in online forums or blogs.

  • Young people, aged 12 to 17, have a very high level of use of social networking services.
    • Approximately 97 per cent of 16 to 17 year olds surveyed reported using at least one of these services, compared to 51 per cent of children aged 8 to 11 years.
  • Fifty four per cent of 12 to 17 year olds claim that ‘chatting to friends from school’ is their main reason for using social networking services.
    • By comparison, only 17 per cent of 12 to 17 year olds claim to use the internet to ‘make new friends’.

Awareness of risks associated with use of internet and social networking services

  • Children and young people have a high awareness of cybersafety risks and identify activities such as ‘posting personal information’ as high risk behaviour.
  • The tendency toward risky behaviour rises with age. Of those aged 16 to 17 years:
    • Sixty-one per cent report accepting ‘friend requests’ from people they don’t know offline.
    • Seventy-eight per cent claim to have personal information, such as a photograph of themselves, on their social networking profile pages, compared to 48 per cent of 8 to 9 year olds.

Parents’ knowledge of cybersafety risks, and communication with children

  • Parents report communicating ‘frequently’ with their children about internet use and the risks associated with stranger contact.
  • As children age, parents report less active monitoring of their internet use
  • Outside of their parents, children are likely to go to their siblings to discuss cybersafety issues. Young people aged 12 to 17 years are most likely to go to another friend for advice.
  • Parents claim a relatively high knowledge of their children’s behaviour online, especially when their child is among the younger age groups.


  • The experience of cyberbullying increases with age. Cyberbullying is experienced by just one per cent of 8 to 9 year olds, but 19 percent of 16 to 17 year olds surveyed.
    • Seventy-two per cent of those surveyed told their parents about the bullying
    • Fifty per cent knew how to block the bully’s messages.
  • Less than 10 per cent of children and young people surveyed admitted any involvement in cyberbullying another person.

The ACMA is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications. The ACMA provides a comprehensive national program of cybersafety initiatives as part of the Australian Government’s cybersafety policy.

The ACMA’s program includes researching current trends in cybersafety, undertaking targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns and activities, and developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home.

Activities include:

  • Developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home. These programs are designed for children from 5 -15 years and include CyberQuoll, CyberNetrix, Cybersmart Detectives and Wise up to IT.
  • The Cybersafety Outreach program of Professional Development for Educators and general awareness presentations for parents, teachers and children.
  • Researching current trends in cybersafety and young people’s use of online media.
  • The Cybersafety Contact Centre offering callers information and advice about internet safety issues and concerns. Telephone 1800 880 176.
  • A complaints hotline for members of the public to report offensive internet material. Visit:
  • Undertaking targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns and activities, such as Safer Internet Day in February 2009.


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