More than one in three British 15-year-olds are “extreme internet users” who spend at least six hours a day online – which is more than their counterparts in all the other 34 OECD countries apart from Chile, research has found.
The report, by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) thinktank, says: “Over a third (37.3%) of UK 15-year-olds can be classed as ‘extreme internet users’ (6+ hours of use a day) – markedly higher than the average of OECD countries.
“The only OECD country with higher levels of extreme internet use than the UK was Chile.” The OECD published its findings in a report last year on students wellbeing in its 35 member states.
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The report warns that children and young people’s heavy internet use can have damaging consequences. “The evidence points towards a correlation between extreme use of social media and harmful effects on young people’s wellbeing. Those classed as ‘extreme internet users’ were more likely to report being bullied (17.8%) than moderate internet users (6.7%),” it states.
British children also start going online for the first time at a young age by international standards, the report discloses. “Nearly a third (27.6%) of young people in the UK were six years old or younger when they first used the internet. This is younger than the OECD average,” it says.
One in three (34%) UK children have experienced cyber-bullying, accessed harmful content such as a website promoting self-harm or had some other type of negative experience when using social media.