Quarter of young Brits confess to ‘bullying or insulting’ someone online

26 per cent of the 16-18 year olds have ‘bullied or insulted someone else’ online


Laptop black and whiteDemos is Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank: an independent, educational charity, which produces original and innovative research. Their new research mapping the behaviour and decision-making of young people online, identifies a shockingly high incidence of hostile online behaviour towards peers – often linked to having previously experienced abuse on social media. Significantly, it highlights the strong relationship between offline and online character and morality in young people.

  • 26 per cent of the 16-18 year olds surveyed say they have ‘bullied or insulted someone else’ online
  • 15 per cent of the young people surveyed said they had ‘joined in with other people to “troll” a celebrity or public figure’
  • Boys are significantly more likely to say they have bullied or insulted someone online than girls (32 per cent compared with 22 per cent) or ‘trolled’ a public figure (22 per cent compared with 10 per cent)
  • 93 per cent of those who said they had insulted or bullied someone else online, said that they had themselves experienced some form of cyber-bullying or abuse
  • Conversely, Demos finds that 88 per cent of the teenagers surveyed had given emotional support to someone online
  • Their analysis finds that young people with stronger traits of empathy and self-control are considerably less likely to engage in cyberbullying.
  • The major new research project, which spanned nine months, involved Demos surveying 668 16-to-18 year olds over Facebook, exploring their online behaviour and responses to various social media scenarios. Demos also held focus groups with 40 teenagers in London and Birmingham, as well as expert roundtables with teachers and other youth work professionals. Demos’ Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) also used innovative methods to analyse the dynamics and contents of ‘trolling’ attacks on Twitter.

    Demos’ focus groups found that young people are often drawn into cyber bullying because they are aware that their friends can see they are being bullied or insulted online, which leaves them compelled to respond in an aggressive way.

    Although the research finds that many young people are attuned to the moral implications of behaviour on social media many young people say they would take no action when they see someone they know being bullied online.

    At the same time, young people also clearly use social media to build friendships and express their beliefs in more positive ways: 88 per cent of the young people surveyed have given emotional support to a friend on social networking sites, and just over half (51 per cent) have posted about ‘a political or social cause that they care about’.

    Social media analysis by Demos looking at the dynamics of ‘trolling’ finds that although social media often facilitates the rapid spread of abuse online, it also gives young people the opportunity to exercise empathy and courage, by coming to the defence of the victim.

    Demos research finds that young people’s character – or the personal traits, values and skills that guide individual conduct – may be significant in determining the extent to which they engage in positive or negative behaviours online. Young people who admit to engaging in risky or unethical behaviour online are, for example, found to demonstrate lower levels of moral sensitivity to others, and have lower self-reported character strengths.

    Certain traits such as empathy, self-control and ‘civic mindedness’, seem particularly closely linked to different types of behaviour. Those with higher levels of empathy and self-control exhibit reduced likelihood of engaging in bullying over social media, while those with high levels of ‘civic mindedness’ are more likely to post about political or social issues.

    Based on the findings of the report, Demos made a number of recommendations, including:

  • The Department for Education should look to rejuvenate the character agenda within Government, through a third round of Character Education Grants, this time focused on developing good character online.
  • The Government should put digital citizenship at the heart of the new Digital Charter, and use its convening power to secure meaningful cross-sectoral collaboration over digital citizenship education.
  • Schools should look to deliver Digital Citizenship education which contains a strong emphasis on the moral implications of online social networking, with a focus on participatory approaches which seek to develop students’ moral and ethical sensitivity.
  • Schools should look to develop school-home links around digital citizenship, supporting parents to close the digital literacy gap and develop effective parental mediation approaches.
  • Commenting on the findings, the report’s author, Peter Harrison-Evans, Researcher at Demos said:
    This research also shows the links between character traits such as empathy and self-control, and how young people think and act on social media. It’s here that we feel policy-makers, schools, and parents can make the biggest difference – empowering young people to make a positive contribution to their online communities by building their social digital skills and increasing their online moral sensitivity.

    Find Out More

    Written by E-safety Support on November 23, 2017 10:44

    National Internet of things survey to identify how children get online at home

    Schools across the UK are being invited to take part in a national survey of Internet use by pupils when at home.


    Naace Survey LogoEducation consultant Brett Laniosh from Catshill Learning Partnerships, who are carrying out the survey, said that the results will provide valuable information to schools on the range of hardware such as laptops, tablets, consoles and smart phones being used by young people. Brett said, “We know that children are using a wide range of technology to get online at home including games consoles, tablets and even their parents’ smart phones. This will be a chance for schools to find out what devices their pupils are using and then compare their results alongside the national average when the results are published in time for Safer Internet Day in February 2017”. He added, “We will also be asking schools to collect information about the “Internet of things” as we may well find that Internet fridges, kettles or even dog collars are being used at home”

    The National Internet of Things survey is supported by education technology association Naace.

    About the survey
    Once signed up, schools will be sent a survey form that will be completed in each class during the Autumn 2016 term.

    Each class will be shown a number of devices and pupils will be asked which they use at home. No personal information will be collected; only the number of devices used.

    Once each class has carried out the survey, schools return the completed form. Numbers will be collated for each school with the national results published in time for Safer Internet Day on 7th February 2017.

    Schools can sign up for the survey here

    Naace Survey

    Written by E-safety Support on September 15, 2016 11:17

    Join Childnet’s school consultation

    Join Childnet’s e-safety for schools consultation into best practices in preventing and responding to cyberbullying


    Cyber Self HarmChildnet, as part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, is in the process of creating new guidance for schools about preventing and responding to cyberbullying, as well as accompanying teaching resources. This work is supported by the European Commission and UK Government and will be launching in early 2016.

    In developing this work, Childnet is looking to find examples and ideas of what schools are doing to prevent and respond to cyberbullying so they can share best practices with schools across the UK.

    They are inviting school staff to complete the following short survey which should take about 15 minutes.

    You will have the opportunity to add your school’s name to the national cyberbullying guidance for schools.



    If you have any queries, please contact education@childnet.com.

    Complete the online survey here - Deadline: 17 June 2015



    Childnet Digital Leaders Programme launching in September 2015


    Childnet recently announced that registration is now open for Childnet’s exciting new peer-to-peer education programme for secondary schools!

    Launching in September 2015, the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme aims to empower young people to champion digital citizenship and digital creativity within their schools and to educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online.

    The programme, which is part of Childnet's work as the UK Safer Internet Centre, will offer pupils structured training and ongoing support from Childnet’s expert team, helping make e-safety learning fun and effective and ensuring that schools deliver an outstanding whole school community approach to e-safety.

    Further information will be coming soon

    Written by E-safety Support on May 21, 2015 10:26


    Join E-safety Support

    • Protect your pupils
    • Support your teachers
    • Deliver outstanding practice

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