Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Trust in online information sources

Young people’s trust and confidence in online information sources

Youth aged 12 to 17 are spending big chunks of their time online but are still cautious when it comes to believing what they read or see. 

Time online

Young people spend considerable time online outside of school:

  • 33% spent 6 hours or less
  • 29% spent 7 to 12 hours
  • 18% spent 13 to 18 hours
  • 9% spent 19 to 24 hours
  • 10% spent more than 24 hours online in an average week

17 year olds spent twice as much time online as 12 year olds. 

Boys and girls spent similar amounts of time online, as did young people born in Australia and those born overseas.

Online trust

When comparing trusted information sources, TV is more trusted than online sources:

  • TV 61% 
  • Online sources 51% 

Of the online sources, searches were more trusted than social media posts

  • Internet searches 40%
  • Social media posts by friends 32%
  • Social media posts by others 20%

There is no significant variation according to gender. 

Those born overseas trust online information slightly more at 54% than those born in Australia at 51%.

Despite trusting these sources, young people still checked the information from:

  • Online sources 34%
  • TV 31%

Online sources included:

  • Internet searches 24%
  • Social media posts by friends 20%
  • Social media posts by others 12%

For information on overseas conflicts

Young people are sourcing information from:

  • TV (News) 80%
  • Online (including social media) 65%
  • Family 53%
  • School 49%
  • Friends 33%

Older youth are more likely to seek information about overseas conflicts online, 81% for 17 year olds compared to 44% for 12 year olds.

Most trusted sources of information in relation to overseas conflicts:

  • 44% – TV
  • 20% – Family
  • 15% – Online
  • 21% – Other

Source: Research commissioned by eSafety and the Department of Education and Training, November to December 2016. Respondents comprised 2,448 young people aged 12 to 17 years in Australia. 

More findings from this research