Netsafe’s latest research uncovers important insights about New Zealand children’s experiences online and their skills in navigating these online experiences. The report, the first to study online experiences of nine to 17 year old New Zealand children, found Kiwi kids are making the most of online opportunities for entertainment, learning and socialising.

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.

Download Findings report

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.

Martin Cocker, Netsafe CEO, says the new research raises questions about what kinds of activities we expect children to engage in online:

New Zealand kids are largely following the same trends we see overseas in terms of preferred activities online, but it raises questions about whether our kids could be getting more out of their online experiences – Martin Cocker

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 are important in ensuring children have the skills to protect themselves online.

More about Global Kids Online New Zealand

About the Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa – New Zealand Kids Online study

In September 2018, Netsafe, with the support of UNICEF NZ, joined Global Kids Online, an international network of academics, social researchers, and experts dedicated to the study of children’s rights, risks and opportunities in the digital age.

Global Kids Online’s purpose is to generate rigorous cross-national research-based evidence regarding the way children access and use the internet and to understand the risks and opportunities of their interaction with digital tools.

In the coming months, Netsafe will publish more findings from Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa – New Zealand Kids Online addressing topics such as children’s experiences of online risk and parents efforts to support their child to navigate the online environment.

About Netsafe

Netsafe is an independent non-profit organisation with an unrelenting focus on online safety. We keep people of all ages safe online by providing free support, advice and education. Visit for useful resources or call 0508 638 723 seven days a week for help with an online incident.

Netsafe created the Online Safety Parent Toolkit to make it easier for parents and whānau to teach their kids to have a safer online experience. Check out our tips, advice and tools at


Media Contacts 

Angela Boundy: Senior Marketing Communications Advisor

Sophie Darragh: Marketing Communications Coordinator


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