Young people take the lead in nationwide Safer Internet Day campaign

Posted on 10 February 2015
  • 30% of 11-16-year-olds experienced someone being mean to them online in the last year

  • But 3 in 4 believe young people have the power to create a kinder online community

  • New #Up2Us film tells of their internet experiences

[10th February 2015] Young people across the UK are joining together to create a kinder online community today,Safer Internet Day 2015, as a new study into Friendship in a Digital Age reveals that 30% of young people have been on the receiving end of mean online behaviour in the past year.

The research comes as official organisers of the day, the UK Safer Internet Centre, launch #Up2Us, a new filmmade by over 150 schoolchildren about their online experiences – both good and bad – with the aim of inspiring young people across the UK to do something kind online this Safer Internet Day. The film will be premiered at events across the UK today, attended by government Ministers and young people.

Celebrities, including young stars such as Britain’s Got Talent finalists Bars and Melody, and Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, have backed the campaign. Beth and other celebrities feature on Safer Internet Day TV, which is hosted by CBBC Friday Download presenters Molly and Harvey, and will be available online today from 11am and 2pm, with a social media takeover by Bars and Melody at 8pm.

They join hundreds supporting the #SID2015 social media campaign to ‘share a smile online’, which is set to reach over 1.5 million in a mass tweet at 8am today, along with over 800 organisations that have pledged their support for Safer Internet Day 2015. High profile partners including the BBC, CEOP, Disney, the FA, Facebook, Google, Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft, NSPCC, Twitter and the UK Government, as well as hundreds of schools and other organisations, are all coming together to deliver a range of inspiring activities across the UK.

Friendship in a Digital Age

According to the online study of more than a thousand 11-16-year-olds conducted by ResearchBods, more than three quarters (78%) believe that young people have the power to create a kinder online community. The majority (88%) of the young people questioned say they always try to be kind in their online interactions.

The study reveals the huge role that technology plays in supporting young people’s friendships, with over half (55%) saying they interact online with their closest friends several times an hour and 63% saying they are closer to their friends because of the internet. Reassuringly the internet is a positive place for the majority of young people surveyed. When questioned about their time spent on social networks and messaging apps, the majority of 11-16s (63%) felt that people were kind to them on the internet most of the time.

However, some young people face negative experiences online. Almost a third (30%) of young people said that someone had been mean to them in the last year, with 1 in 20 (5%) saying that people were mean to them most of the time on the internet.

Many of these young people are taking positive steps to tackle these negative experiences, with three-quarters (75%) of young people who experienced mean behaviour saying they have blocked someone in the last year, while 68% said they have supported someone else who was being targeted online.  More positively, 64% of young people said they felt able to cope with anything negative that might happen online and 81% said they know what to do if someone is abusive towards them online.

An additional survey of UK adults by ComRes demonstrates that this isn’t just an issue for children. 45% of adults who use social networking and messaging apps said they occasionally see people on their social networks and messaging apps posting unkind, negative or upsetting content. People sharing gossip and rumours has occurred for three quarters (72%) of adults using social networking and messaging apps, while around three in five (59%) have experienced people posting things that attack a certain group (e.g. racist, sexist or homophobic comments).   

That’s why everyone is being encouraged to play their part in creating a better internet.

Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said:

“It’s heartening to hear that the majority of young people are finding the internet a positive place on the whole, but there’s more to be done to make sure that’s the experience for everyone. We’re encouraging everyone to take action today – whether that’s sharing a smiley face or making a promise about your online behaviour. It really is up to us to make the internet a better place.”

 

For more information on the activities taking place to celebrate Safer Internet Day, visit the UK Safer Internet Centre website.

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