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Young people 'can't live without web'

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Young people 'can't live without web'
The majority of young people believe that they "couldn't live" without access to the internet, new research has revealed.

According to a report by online charity YouthNet, 75% of the 994 16 to 24-year-olds surveyed said that they view the web as an essential resource, with 82% using it for advice on sensitive topics such as sex and drugs.

In the findings, due to be presented to Parliament today, 32% of those surveyed declined to talk face-to-face with a person about their problems as the information is available online.

Lancaster University professor Michael Hulme, who authored the report, described the survey group as "digital natives" who have grown up with technology immediately available to them.

His report identified this generation as living 'hybrid lives, in which they communicate in more advanced ways and are developing more 'highly developed visual-spatial skills' compared to their parents and grandparents.

"For young people the internet is part of the fabric of their world and does not exist in isolation from the physical world," said professor Hulme.

"In the future, as access becomes ever more mobile, multi-platform, faster and with richer media - in other words ever on and everywhere - the need and demand for advice through the internet will become even more critical."

Welcoming the report, government advisor on children and technology professor Tanya Byron said: "This research illustrates the vital role the internet plays in the lives of young people. Far more than just a way to keep in touch - it, and its online population, have become a confidant for young people facing difficult, stressful or confusing times.

"The ease of access to opinion, support and advice is of course appealing to a generation who have grown up with immediacy, but it's essential the adults and organisations that provide support to this age group recognise this, and offer services that are easily accessible through the internet."

The Nominet Trust-funded report also indicated that 76% of young people consider the internet safe to use "as long as you know what you're doing".

Youthnet chief executive Fiona Dawes said that the organisation will now use the "insights" from the survey to increase the effectiveness of its future services.

"The incredible speed in which communication methods are changing means that young people are trailblazing new ways to converse that many of my generation struggle to understand," she said.

"With the huge number of unregulated and unmoderated websites, blogs, networks and groups that exist online, the need for a safe, trusted place has never been greater, which is why YouthNet will be taking the insights of this report to heart as we plan the future of our services."

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