Netsafe’s latest research uncovers important insights about New Zealand children’s experiences online and their skills in navigating these online experiences.

Netsafe has released Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa – New Zealand Kids Online, the first ever research into the online experiences and digital skills of New Zealand children aged nine to 17.

Key findings:

  • Most New Zealand children were confident in their digital skills but younger children (9-11) were less so, particularly when it comes to managing privacy.
  • Most kids use the internet for entertainment, learning and socialising, e.g. 90% watched video clips at least once a week.
  • Children were much less likely to go online for activities such as discussing social problems online, writing a blog or connecting with people from a different background for example. These activities were called community, civic and creative opportunities.
  • Social media is ubiquitous among children of all ages who use these tools primarily for socialising and entertainment.
  • There is a big jump in the use of the internet to connect with others over social media between 12-14.
  • Girls were more likely to be using instant messaging and photo-sharing apps while boys were more likely to be using the internet for online gaming.
  • Video-hosting websites such as YouTube were the most popular online platform amongst New Zealand kids followed by search engines like Google and photo and video sharing apps like Instagram.
  • Asian children were more likely to report frequent access to the internet compared to Pākehā and Māori children with Pacific children reporting the lowest rates of internet access.
  • Pacific children were less confident in their skills to protect their privacy online and, along with Māori children, were less confident in their ability to determine whether what they find on the internet is true or not.

This report is Netsafe’s first publication as a member of the Global Kids Online network. GKO is a project that connects researchers and experts from around the world to generate a rigorous cross-national evidence base around children’s use of digital technologies. Netsafe’s work as a member of the GKO network reflects a commitment to helping New Zealand kids maximise digital opportunities and prevent the impact of online harm.


View full report

Netsafe’s takeaway points:

  • Younger children are not as digitally confident as most adults might think. The research challenges the idea that children growing up now are instinctively ‘digital natives’ and suggests younger children may need more active help to protect their safety online.
  • The pre-teen age bracket is an important intervention period to help children develop online safety skills as the nature of their internet use is likely to change in early teenage-hood.
  • Inequalities in access to the internet could mean some children are missing out on the opportunities for learning, creativity and engagement that the internet can provide.
  • Maintaining open conversations with children about how they’re using the internet, on what platforms and who they’re connecting with is important in ensuring children have the skills to protect themselves online.


Netsafe established a research programme in November 2016 as part of its role under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015. Netsafe’s research explores the relationship between digital technology, people and society primarily in the context of the risk and impact of harmful digital communications.

Netsafe’s research programme is contributing with exploratory research of topics involving adult and young New Zealanders. Our contribution includes:

  • Adult New Zealanders and harmful digital communications.
  • Teenagers and the prevalence of the sharing of nudes (‘sexting’).
  • Teenagers’ interaction with digital technologies and views on online safety.
  • Perceptions of teenagers about digital risks and harm (qualitative).
  • A measure of teenagers’ personal experiences of digital risks and harm.


We’ve worked on projects with the Ministry for Women (NZ), UK Safer Internet Centre, University of Plymouth (UK), Office of the eSafety Commissioner (Aus), Office of Film & Literature Classification (NZ), UNICEF (NZ), and Waikato University’s CROW Lab. Find us at the conference to discuss how we can work together, or email [email protected]