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

    Childnet 2017 Film Competition Winners Announced

    Young people’s internet safety films to be used as educational resources, as Childnet announce national winners of its 2017 Film Competition


    Childnet Competition 2017 EventLeading online safety charity Childnet announced the winners of the eighth annual Childnet Film Competition at a private screening held for the competition finalists and industry guests at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank.

    Judged by a panel of experts from the BBC, BBFC and the BFI, the two winning schools and the four other finalists will now see their films used as internet safety resources to educate other young people about how to ‘Be the change’ and use the internet positively and safely.

    The Childnet Film Competition was founded in 2010 to harness the positive role of peer-to-peer education and provide a creative and inclusive approach to empower and inspire young people aged 7-18 to use technology safely, positively and creatively.

    Through the process the young people create valuable resources to educate their peers about staying safe online and develop their own understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen.

    Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, said:
    “The Childnet Film Competition is a great opportunity for young people to showcase their creative skills by creating engaging and educational videos to spread key online safety messages. The standard of entries this year has been exceptionally high and it’s clear to us that these young people are really passionate about making the internet a better place for all. All of the finalists’ films will be invaluable resources to help educate other young people about online safety.”

    The competition invites schools and youth organisations from across the UK to capture their internet safety messages in a short film. This year, the film competition invited young people to think about how young people can come together and make a positive change online.

    Childnet Education Projects Officer, Becky Nancarrow, said:
    “This year’s Film Competition theme, ‘Be the change’, was all about inspiring young people to think about how they as young people can change the way that they use the internet for good. Today we not only saw the time and dedication that has gone into creating these films but the passion young people have for creating a better internet for everyone. It’s amazing that the young people’s films will continue to have an even wider impact, as they become resources for schools and youth groups to use”.

    With over 127 entries from across the two categories; primary and secondary, entries ranged from animated films, to dramas about cyberbullying, to a news story about the positive uses of the internet. 6 schools attended the finalists’ event at the BFI in London before seeing their films on the big screen.

    The films were judged by David Austin OBE Chief Executive at the BBFC, Catherine McAllister Head of Safeguarding and Child Protection BBC Children’s, and Joanna van der Meer Film Tutor and Family Learning Programmer at BFI Southbank.

    The winners of this year’s Film Competition were St Michael in the Hamlet Primary School in the primary category with their film Be the Change: It starts with us. In the secondary category the winners were Dover College with their film Trouser Boy.

    The winning films from the Childnet Film Competition can be viewed here: www.childnet.com/filmcompetition

    Childnet Winners 2017

    Quotes from the Film Competition 2017 finalists’ event

    ‘The film competition puts online safety into a practical setting, in school or at home children don’t always get it, but putting those messages into a film they get into it and understand it more because it’s encouraging them to do something for themselves; something that’s big, that other people will see, and something that’s fun.’ – Teacher

    ‘I think it’s a great way of teaching children how to be safe, because it’s also a fun way of being in a competition, so it’s competitive. Through the competition I learnt that even if you do something wrong you can always find a way to make it better’ - Young person, primary category winner

    ‘I think this competition is really good for teaching people about online safety, on top of that we had a lot of fun doing the video! It took us a few hours and overall the experience was really good for us, and today was just the highlight’ – Young person, secondary category winner

    Written by Childnet International on July 13, 2017 09:38

    Cyber bullying – it’s time to bring things into the open

    Whilst it feels as if we’ve come a long way when it comes to tackling cyber bullying, events of previous weeks show there is still much to be done.


    Bullying sketchOnly days ago, another victim took their own life as a result of being persecuted on the Internet. Yorkshire teenager, George Hessay had just turned 15 on May 10th when he was found to have hung himself after receiving insulting comments online. Surprisingly, the comments were not posted on one of the mainstream social media sites but on Sayat.me, an Estonian site created as an anonymous feedback tool for business users seeking “constructive, honest feedback” from colleagues and clients. The site clearly states that it is for use by people over 18, yet amongst its 30 million users, many are believed to be teenagers.

    The Sayat.me site apologised with a statement that it deplores bullying of any kind and was taken offline by its administrators, however removing the site fails to address the crux of the problem. For every site that is removed, there are always hundreds of other ‘anonymous’ sites that can be willingly accessed by teenagers. These are often unmoderated and lack the adequate tools to report and block offensive comments.

    The problem of anonymity
    Anonymous sites pose particular dangers for young people. Whilst they state their purpose is to give people the freedom to express themselves without fear or prejudice, giving irresponsible people a virtual curtain to hide behind often means giving them the means to torment others without the fear of reproach. Strong opinions that wouldn’t normally be vented in the real world can easily be typed in just a few seconds, online arguments can escalate and people quickly become victims of insult or abuse. For younger people, their bullies are often people they know in the real world; frustrated or jealous school mates who reveal a nastier side when they have the opportunity to conceal their identities. Bullied adolescents and teenagers are left hurt and agonised, not knowing which of their ‘friends’ has turned against them.

    One of the ways online bullying differs so much from personal bullying is that the perpetrator is able to psychologically disconnect themselves from the damage they are causing. Whilst bullying once took place in the playground, the ownership of digital devices by young people means that bullying can take place on a 24 hour basis. For the victim there is no escape, even when they’re at home. Younger people who have experienced online bullying suffer from lower self-esteem, fear, frustration, anger and depression and increased suicidal ideation, with the psychological damage of online bullying often taking years to heal. The impact is long lasting.

    Let’s start talking
    With no real way to enforce an over 18s restriction on anonymous websites (most young people will falsify information to sign up anyway) the only way to prevent online bullying is to encourage victims to speak out and raise awareness of the damage they’ve suffered at the hands of other young people. Whilst technology has evolved at a tremendous pace, some of the social aspects of bullying remain the same. Young people still experience tremendous pressure to be accepted. Action for Children reported that one in seven (15%) children has bullied others online, with nearly 60% of children responding that they bullied to fit in with a certain social group.

    The need for proper education, openness and discussion of the matter has been supported by the NSPCC who, in the wake of George Hessay’s death stated that “Children and teenagers must be reassured that it’s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that either make themselves or other people upset, hurt and scared and that parents should talk with their children and emphasise that they can still be accepted even if they don’t go along with the crowd.”

    Having these types of conversations can be difficult, but opening up the subject carries huge benefits. Those who are being bullied find it incredibly isolating and fear discussing the types of comments they’ve been receiving, particularly with their parents. Making it clear to them that it’s ok to bring things into the open without creating anger, criticism or upset means that the problem can explored, options discussed and any further bullying eliminated, giving the child a much happier outcome.

    How parents can get involved
    With half term almost upon us, Internet Matters has taken the perfect opportunity to drive these conversations through its #Pledge2Talk campaign. Working alongside the Anti-Bullying Alliance, they have created guides for parents, providing advice on how to discuss the subject of cyber bullying with their children and the steps they can take if they feel they are being threatened online. The week-long holiday means that parents are more likely to be with their children at home, with many children using their mobile devices and social media, giving a natural situation in which the topic can be raised and discussed.

    Talking about cyber bullying in the school environment
    Education about the cyber bullying shouldn’t just stop at home, and 'Stop Cyberbullying Day' on 16th June gives schools a chance to create a themed day around the topic. This could include assemblies, lessons and workshops about why young people are drawn into online bullying, how to say ‘no’ when encouraged by peers to bully others and how young people can reduce the risk of attracting online bullies, such as not using anonymous forums and websites. Most importantly, it’s a perfect time to discuss the responsible use of the Internet, meaning adolescents understand how their online behaviour impacts others and how it can leave behind lasting and harmful consequences.

    Free cyber bullying webinar
    To learn more about teaching children about cyber bullying, why not join us for one of our three seminars taking place throughout Thursday 8th June?

    Presented by Tim Pinto, e-safety consultant and member of the Educational Advisory Board for CEOP, each webinar will give you a 20 minute refresher on the topic, quickly updating you on all you need to know about this increasingly worrying trend of behaviour amongst young people.

    The webinars will address the following:

  • Definitions of cyber bullying - different names e.g. trash talk
  • Research - how many young people are being affected?
  • The signs to look out for and the consequences of cyber bullying
  • Ways to counter cyber bullying
  • There will also be a section on tips for teaching cyber bullying awareness and prevention.

    To register for the 10am cyber bullying webinar, click here
    To register for the 2pm cyber bullying webinar, click here
    To register for the 4pm cyber bullying webinar, click here

    All E-safety Support members can also download a cyber bullying assembly plan to use on 'Stop Cyberbullying Day'. To download the assembly, log into your E-safety Support dashboard or register for free membership

    Further webinars taking place include 'Digital Reputation' and 'Public WiFi' - find out more

    Written by E-safety Support on May 25, 2017 11:00


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