Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

UK children go online: balancing the opportunities against the risks

By Sonia Livingstone


As UK households gain access to the internet, many questions arise for social scientists and policy makers. This working paper overviews a project designed to understand the balance of opportunities and risks afforded to children and young people by the diffusion and appropriation of the internet in everyday life. The project, UK Children Go Online, sought to steer a course between utopian and dystopian views by conducting a substantial multi-method empirical project focusing on four key dimensions of use -(1) access, inequalities and the digital divide; (2) undesirable forms of content and contact; (3) education, informal learning and literacy; and (4) communication, identity and participation. Gradations in frequency of internet use, significantly explained by demographic, use and expertise, predicted take-up of online opportunities, this suggesting a new divide between those for whom the internet is an increasingly rich, engaging and stimulating resource and those for whom it remains a narrow, unengaging, if occasionally useful, resource. Notably, despite the widespread notion that young people are the internet experts, the research identified a range of ways in which children struggle with the internet. Last, the research showed that it is those who take up more online opportunities, not fewer, who encounter more of the risks associated with internet use. This raises particular challenges for parents and schools in supporting children as the task of determining what is trustworthy, reliable or safe online

Topics: QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science, PN1990 Broadcasting
Publisher: Media@lse
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (2005). Active participation or just more information? Young people's take up of opportunities to act and interact on the internet. doi
  2. (2003). Children's use of the internet: Reflections on the emerging research agenda. doi
  3. (2000). Difference and Diversity: Trends in Young Danes' Media Use. doi
  4. (2005). Factors influencing adolescents' engagement in risky internet behavior. doi
  5. (2007). Gradations in digital inclusion: Children, young people and the digital divide. New Media and Society, doi
  6. (2007). Interactivity and participation on the internet: A critical appraisal of the online invitation to young people. In
  7. (2000). Internet Self-Efficacy and the Psychology of the Digital Divide. doi
  8. (2005). Internet Society: The internet in everyday life. doi
  9. (2006). Introduction. In doi
  10. (1995). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. doi
  11. (2003). Literacy in the New Media Age. doi
  12. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. doi
  13. (1998). Page to Screen: Taking Literacy into the Electronic Era. doi
  14. (2006). Regulating the internet at home: Contrasting the perspectives of children and parents. In
  15. (2001). Selling the Digital Dream: Marketing Educational Technology to Teachers and Parents.
  16. (1998). Studying Children in Context: Theories, Methods and Ethics. Thousand Oaks: doi
  17. (2004). Taking up opportunities? Children’s uses of the internet for education, communication and participation. doi
  18. (2007). The challenge of engaging youth online: Contrasting producers’ and teenagers’ interpretations of websites. doi
  19. (2003). The exposure of youth to unwanted sexual material on the internet: A national survey of risk, impact, and prevention. doi
  20. (2001). The Internet Galaxy. doi
  21. (2005). The Internet Playground: Children's access, entertainment, and miseducation. doi
  22. (1998). Theorizing Childhood. Cambridge: doi
  23. (2005). UK Children Go Online: Final report of key project findings. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.
  24. (2000). What parents know, how they know it, and several forms of adolescent adjustment: Further support for a reinterpretation of monitoring. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.