Nearly a quarter (24%) of 10 to 16 year-olds regret, or have a friend who regrets, posting live videos on apps such as Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live, a study has revealed.
The survey, conducted by YouGov for children's charity Barnardo's, found the regret increased with age - 30% of 13-year-olds and 38% of 16-year-olds regretted, or had a friend who regretted posting live videos, which can be viewed instantly by friends on the apps.
The study, which polled more than 1,000 children, suggests thousands of kids may be putting themselves at risk by sharing live videos on sites with a minimum age limit of 13. These also include YouTube, Musical.ly and Live.ly, which provide "inadequate safety controls and settings", according to the charity.
"Livestreaming is being used by predators to groom children online," said Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan. "We know from our specialist services across the UK that children are at risk of 'live grooming' on online platforms. Tech companies are simply not doing enough to keep children safe."
Despite the recent announcement by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock that the government would produce a white paper about online safety, Barnardo's says urgent action is needed to "protect children now".
"Theresa May vowed to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online," said Khan. "We welcome Matt Hancock's commitment to making this happen but new laws are not expected for at least two years and this is simply not good enough for the children who need protecting now. We need urgent action to protect the next generation of children - any delay to act could put another generation of children in danger online."
Nearly half of all the 10- to 16-year-olds (49%) polled said they have posted live videos. Asked why they want to live stream videos on apps such as Snapchat or Instagram, 30% said because it's fun, 25% said they enjoy posting content with their friends, 16% like to let others know what they're doing and 14% like it when their posts get shared or commented on. Just 5% said it was because it allowed them to talk to new people or because they wanted to be a social media star.
Just over a third (39%) of 10- to 16-year-olds said they are, or would be, worried that strangers could contact them if they were posting live videos. And only 14% said "nothing would worry them" about live-streaming videos.
In response to the study, Simon Bailey, the national police chiefs' council lead for child protection said parents need to talk to their children about how to stay safe online. And Childnet's chief executive Will Gardner said we need to equip children with the skills and confidence they need to use live-streaming services safely, responsibly and positively. So how can we talk to our kids about this?
CEO of Internet Matters Carolyn Bunting says children may feel the need to share inappropriate images because of peer pressure or in bid to get attention. To avoid children regretting the images they post online, she shared some tips with HuffPost UK on what parents can do:
:: Discuss the reasons why your child may want to share inappropriate images and the potential long-term impact this could have, particularly if the pictures are shared further or used without their consent.
:: Remind your child that these images are their personal digital footprint for years to come and advise them to use settings that only let them share with friends they know and trust.
:: Tell your child if they're not comfortable wearing it on their T-shirt, they shouldn't put it online.