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Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day 2019 has the theme: Together for a better internet. A website offers guidance for young people and teachers, social workers and others, for instance if a young person asks for help.

Will Gardner OBE, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, says: “There can be no doubt that sharing and connecting with others online is an integral part of everyday life for young people. Today’s findings are encouraging, highlighting how young people have a strong sense of what is right online, and are harnessing the internet to make a positive difference for themselves and others.

“However, our research shows that without clear guidance for navigating the complexities of online consent, the gap between young people’s attitudes and behaviours is striking.

“Safer Internet Day provides a unique opportunity to address this gap, by listening to young people’s experiences, leading by example, and encouraging conversations about our online lives. It is vital that we – from an individual to an industry level – take responsibility to support young people to navigate consent online and put their positive attitudes into action. We must move beyond advising them only on what they should do online, and work with them to understand how to do this in practice.

“In doing so, we can empower young people, and those that support them, to be better able to harness and use the positive power of the internet for good.”

The Centre (Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning) found that young people have a strong sense of right and wrong online, with an overwhelming 84pc believing everyone has a responsibility to respect others. However, in practice almost half (48pc) admit their peers don’t always think before they post. 36pc of young people are sharing screenshots of other peoples’ photos, comments or messages at least weekly,

This exposes young people to a confusing landscape when it comes to online consent, and a lack of consensus on how to navigate this. Half of young people (51pc) think their friends should ask for permission before tagging them or sharing a photo or video of them, while 37pc think their parents should ask. Furthermore, 27pc are likely to read a friend’s messages without their permission. Young people are also not asking permission before posting, despite 81pc knowing when and how to ask. Consequently, in the last year over half of young people (52pc) said someone they know shared a photo or video of them without asking.

This breach of consent can leave young people feeling anxious or not in control (39pc), with a lack of clarity having a real impact on their lives. Even when permission is sought, young people are facing further pressures. Despite feeling confident telling their friends (82pc) and parents (85pc) not to share something about them online, in practice it can be difficult to say no. In the last year, 34pc have said yes to something about them being shared online, even though they didn’t want it to be. The ‘rules’ are also confused when consent is breached. Whilst the majority of young people would always remove something they’d posted about a friend if asked to, 36pc would not.

Most, 60pc only know about certain issues or news because of the internet. The young are using the internet as a safe space to understand and navigate topics they’re nervous to ask about, with 67pc saying it’s easier to learn about them online.


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