54% of 12- to 15-year-olds use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to access online news, making it the second most popular
source of news after television (62%).
The news that children read via social media is provided by third-party websites. While some of these may be reputable news organisations, others may not.
73% of online tweens are aware of the concept of 'fake news', and four in ten (39%) say they have seen a fake news story online or on social media.
The findings are from Ofcom's Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes Report 2017 . This year, the report examines for the first time how children aged 12 to15 consume news and online content.
Filtering fake news
The vast majority of 12-15s who follow news on social media are questioning the content they see. Almost nine in ten (86%) say they would make at least one practical attempt to check whether a social media news story is true or false.
The main approaches older children say they would take include:
seeing if the news story appears elsewhere (48% of children who follow news on social media would do this);
reading comments after the news report in a bid to verify its authenticity (39%);
checking whether the organisation behind it is one they trust (26%); and
assessing the professional quality of the article (20%).
Some 63% of 12- to 15-year-olds who are aware of fake news are prepared to do something about it, with 35% saying they would tell their parents or other family member. Meanwhile, 18% would leave a comment saying they thought the news story was
fake; and 14% would report the content to the social media website directly.
Children's online lives
More children are using the internet than ever before. Nine in ten (92% of 5- to 15-year-olds) are online in 2017 -- up from 87% last year.
More than half of pre-schoolers (53% of 3-4s) and 79% of 5-7s are online -- a year-on-year increase of 12 percentage points for both these age groups.
Much of this growth is driven by the increased use of tablets: 65% of 3-4s, and 75% of 5-7s now use these devices at home -- up from 55% and 67% respectively in 2016.
Children's social media preferences have also shifted over recent years. In 2014, 69% of 12-15s had a social media profile, and most of these (66%) said their main profile was on Facebook. The number of 12-15s with a profile now stands at 74%,
while the number of these who say Facebook is their main profile has dropped to 40%.
Though most social media platforms require users to be 13 or over, they are very popular with younger children. More than a quarter (28%) of 10-year-olds have a social media profile, rising to around half of children aged 11 or 12 (46% and 51%
Negative online experiences
Half of children (49%) aged 12 to 15 who use the internet say they 'never' see hateful content online.
But the proportion of children who have increased this year, from 34% in 2016 to 45% in 2017.
More than a third (37%) of children who saw this type of content took some action. The most common response was to report it to the website in question (17%). Other steps included adding a counter-comment to say they thought it was wrong (13%),
and blocking the person who shared or made the hateful comments (12%).
ISP Website blocking
Use of network level filters increased again this year. Nearly two in five parents of 3-4s and 5-15s who have home broadband and whose child goes online use home network-level content filters, and this has increased for both groups since 2016,
part of a continuing upward trend.
Use of parental control software (software set up on a particular device, e.g. Net Nanny, McAfee Family Protection) has also increased among parents of 3-4s and 5-15s, to around three in ten.
More than nine in ten parents of 5-15s who use either of these tools consider them useful, and around three-quarters say they block the right amount of content.
One in five parents who use network-level filters think their child would be able to bypass them, although fewer 12-15s say they have done thisOne in five of the parents of 5-15s who use network-level filters say they think their child would be
able to unset, bypass or over-ride them; more likely than in 2016. This is similar to the number of 12-15s who say they know how to do this, although fewer say they have ever done it (6%).