A poll of more than 3,000 children and adults in Britain by children’s charity Barnardo’s found that just 13% of young people and 8% of adults believe people will still write messages to each other in 30 years’ time.
Instead, most think people will use holograms – or even implants into the brain or rest of the body – to communicate with one another.
Barnardo’s commissioned the survey to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the launch of the world wide web and a new report from the charity – Generation Digital – which urges the UK Government to introduce new legislation to better protect children online.
The research found that more than half (56%) of young people think spending too much time online and not enough talking to people face-to-face is an issue facing younger internet users in the future.
More than 80% of adults also said they were concerned about the risk of children being groomed, exploited or bullied online.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “In the last 30 years the way children and adults communicate has changed beyond recognition, so it’s no surprise that in the next 30 years we are headed towards the stuff of science fiction.
“The internet and new technologies have transformed how young people learn, play and communicate – but it’s also created new risks to children’s safety and wellbeing.
“Our laws and systems must keep pace with technological change so we can protect children effectively on and offline.
“This requires urgent changes today – like regulating the internet and giving children the skills to stay safe – but also a longer-term commitment from Government, charities, industry, and other partners, to put children first in an ever-changing digital world.”
Earlier this year, the Government published a white paper around online harms, which proposed new legislation that would greatly increase regulation on technology companies.
The proposals included the introduction of a statutory duty of care, forcing firms to commit to protecting users from harmful content – with large fines and even blocks on websites possible for those who fail to meet the suggested standards.