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Publication - Research and analysis

Engaging in risky online behaviour - prevalence and associated factors: initial findings

Published: 19 Mar 2021

Initial findings on prevalence and associated factors at age 12 from the Growing Up in Scotland Survey on engaging in risky online behaviour.

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

Contents
Engaging in risky online behaviour - prevalence and associated factors: initial findings
5. Family Factors

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

5. Family Factors

5.1 Family structure

Children from lone parent households were more likely to have sent personal information to someone they had never met face-to-face (6%, compared to 3% of those from couple parent households). However, this association was very weak. For the remaining five risky online behaviours, there was no association found – see Appendix 10.2 - Table 6.

5.2 Closeness to parents (including non-resident parents)

The survey asks about the child's relationship with their resident mother/ father, non-resident parents and other mother/ father figures. As this is an initial analysis only the relationship with their resident mother and father were explored.

Children were asked to evaluate how true the following statements are about their relationship with the resident mother/ father:

  • [Resident parent] listens to what I have to say
  • I can count on [resident parent] to help me when I have a problem
  • I can talk to [resident parent] when I'm having a problem
  • If [resident parent] knows something is bothering me, they ask me about it
  • I share my thoughts and feelings with [resident parent]
  • [Resident parent] pays attention to me

There were four possible responses: Never true, sometimes true, often true, always true. An average score was calculated, which ranged from 1 to 4, with a higher score indicating a closer relationship with their resident parent. For analysis, responses were grouped into three equally sized groups of those with low, medium and high closeness to resident parent.

5.2.1 Closeness to resident mother

Most children had a close relationship with their resident mother, with an average score of 3.5. Those who were less close to their resident mother were more likely to have engaged in all risky online behaviours, see Figure 8.

Sixteen per cent of those less close to their resident mother had done something online they knew their parents would not want them to do, compared to 5% of those more close to their resident mother. This association was weak. This pattern was seen across each of the other four risky online behaviours – see Appendix 10.2 – Table 7.

Similar proportions of children less close or moderately close to their resident mother had met up with someone face-to-face with who they first made contact online (9% and 8% respectively). While 4% of those more close to their resident mother had engaged in this behaviour. This association was very weak.

Figure 8. Children who felt less close to their resident mother were more likely to have engaged in each of the risky online behaviours.
Children less close to their resident mother were more likely to engage in risky online behaviours

5.2.2 Closeness to resident father

Most children had a close relationship to their resident father, with an average score of 3.4. As with resident mother, those less close to their resident father were more likely to have engaged in all risky online behaviours.

Two in five children (40%) who felt they were less close to their resident father had added someone to their friends/ contacts list they had never met face-to-face, compared to one in four (25%) of those who felt more close. Similar patterns were seen across: those that had sent a photo/ video of themselves to someone they had never met face-to-face; done anything online their parents would not want them to do; or had lied to their parents about what they did online. All these associations were weak – see Appendix 10.2 – Table 7.

For the remaining two behaviours – sent personal information and met up with someone – the association was very weak, though the pattern remains the same.

Figure 9. Children who felt less close to their resident father were more likely to have engaged in each of the risky online behaviours.
Children less close to their resident father were more likely to engage in risky online behaviours

5.3 Parent-child conflict

Main carers were asked how often the following statements applied to their relationship with their child[8]:

  • My child and I get on each other's nerves
  • My child and I shout at each other
  • When my child and I argue we stay angry for a very long time
  • When my child and I disagree, child storms out of the room

These statements had five possible responses: not at all, a little, sometimes, fairly often, and almost all or all of the time. Responses were added together to form a score ranging from 4 to 20. For analysis, responses were grouped into three equally sized groups of those with low, medium and high parent-child conflict.

risky online behaviours, or if engaging in these risky online behaviours meant children were more likely to experience parent-child conflict).

Figure 10. Children whose main caregivers reported high levels of parent-child conflict were more likely to have engaged in most of the risky online behaviours.
Children in high parent-child conflict were more likely to engage in risky online behaviours

Contact

Email: GUS@gov.scot