The more Net-literate kids are the more likely they are to run into risks online. That was the key finding of a two-year study by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). “It is the skilled youngsters, more than the beginners, who are likely to encounter online risks such as bullying, online porn or privacy risks,” reads the study’s press release. The researchers, Dr. Magdalena Bober and social psychology Prof. Sonia Livingstone, acknowledged that this poses quite a challenge to kids’ caregivers: “This points up the dilemma that parents and other regulators face. Restricting children and young people’s Internet use reduces the risks but also carries a cost because it reduces their opportunities online.” Stephen Carrick-Davies, CEO of Childnet, one of the study’s sponsors, highlighted the importance of parents staying engaged in kids’ Net activities and helping them develop critical thinking as they move around and communicate via the Net. Fortunately, the research also found that skilled Net users “don’t show blind trust. Rather, they are better at searching and more able to find reliable Web sites, for example by checking information across several sites. This is an improvement over what was discovered in a small study at Wellesley College in 2003 (see “Critical thinking” in my 5/30/03 issue). This latest UK study involved “a series of focus group discussions and then a national survey of 1,511 9-to-19-year-olds” throughout the UK. Here’s the full report at LSE in pdf format and the BBC’s coverage.