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

    Social Media - the pressures on young people

    Is social media more stressful than exams for pupils?


    E-safety Social MediaAccording to Marion Gibbs, a retiring head teacher from James Allen's Girls School in Dulwich, teenagers feel more pressure and stress from social media than they do exams. She refers to a 'Goldfish bowl' world where girls especially feel an overwhelming pressure to look amazing and be popular.

    Recently I have seen a definite rise amongst younger and younger students using social media as a platform to prove their popularity and the anxiety it causes when it goes wrong. So I am inclined to agree with Ms Gibbs opinions. I am talking from the position of step parent and teacher.

    From my own experience, my selfie-stick loving step children have taken to using special apps in search of more followers on instagram because in their words 'you're really unpopular if you have no followers'. They are 9 and 12. Following on from that, I know of adults too that use these apps to increase their online profiles status by 'buying up' followers and likes. In an attempt to appear more successful and more popular in job hunting for example. The superlatives echo our need to feel accepted and looked up to. Are we all guilty? Do we all in fact feel the same pressures?

    In my role a PSHE coordinator I am constantly hearing how students can have literally 24 hours a day of constant contact, photos, statuses and texts at the touch of a button. This can be a particular problem when students fall out and where it was previously left at school gates, now students complain of an inescapable virtual presence at every turn. And in an environment where students can have in excess of hundreds of friends and followers, every thought and picture is scrutinised, judged and commented on. Alluding to the pre aforementioned comments of the head teacher, these issues are all running parallel to an already stressful time of their young lives studying, learning and taking exams, against a backdrop of unequivocal pressure to be popular and to 'fit in'. I feel for them a great deal. As an 80's child, I am so pleased that our school years weren't filled with selfies and status updates and instead was just being nagged for spending a mere 5 minutes on a landline.

    Scarily, it's now reported that kids can spend up to 44 hours a week in front of smart phones and tablets, with a further 23% admitting to some sort of addiction to games and social media. Potential warning signals of addiction can range from checking emails and status updates several times an hour; a complete loss of time when on phones and tablets, preferring to interact online than face to face and using tablets and phones first thing on waking and then last thing when going to sleep. Knowing this applies to at least half of my class, it's apparent how addiction and pressure to keep 'in the social media loop' is a complete distraction from real life and provides some sort of escapism.

    So, looking forward, what can we do to alleviate these pressures and refocus children? I think firstly lead by example, I know I am guilty of scrolling through my phone during downtimes, it's important to show we can have self control and abide by no phone/tablet times - even though initially this would be unpopular it does provide an alternative focus from technology and gives a chance for free time to be 'uncontaminated'.

    We can encourage students to turn off notifications from social media sites, if, every time the screen flashes up with another picture or status update, the young person is so tempted to stop what they're doing and then be drawn back into the cycle. A recent study by Johnathan Spira pefectly illustrates the issue in his findings. If you spend 30 seconds scrolling the internet it will then take you at least 5 minutes to fully re-engage in what you were doing beforehand.

    Schools can also adopt good practice too by teaching children the pitfalls of using social media in unhealthy ways and understand its place in relationships. E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members can download a series of e-safety lessons that deal extensively with this topic.

    We can raise awareness of campaigns like 'ditch your smart phone for a day' (June 28th)...I know I intend to heavily promote this in school, introducing it like a sponsored silence where it's a challenge and discussions can ensue where students share stories of how they coped and what they did with all their new found available time off social media. Ironically, the promotion of the event has massively gathered memento through sharing on social media sites, but, this is also how many people have been reached and reflected upon their own habits, moreover it reflects a desire amongst society to change our habits to improve our relationships and lifestyles. I know that June 28th will be an interesting experiment, no doubt reported in depth by some on social media the next day. I look forward to it.

    A recent poll by Schools Improvement Net, posed the question 'Is the pressure to look good on social media harming young people?' - see the results here

    Written by Vicki Dan on June 04, 2015 10:19

    Keeping children safe online is the biggest child protection challenge of this generation

    Parents’ concerns about social networking sites popular with children were revealed recently, as the NSPCC launched its Share Aware campaign to get families talking about socialising safely online.

    An NSPCC panel of more than 500 parents from Mumsnet reviewed 48 of these sites and said all those aimed at adults and teenagers were too easy for children under 13 to sign-up to. On more than 40 per cent of the sites, the panel struggled to locate privacy, reporting and safety information.

    At least three quarters of parents surveyed by the NSPCC found sexual, violent, or other inappropriate content on Sickipedia, Omegle, Deviant Art, and F my Life within half an hour of logging into the sites.

    Those aimed at younger children, like Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, Popjam and Bearville, fared better and parents did not find any unsuitable content on them.

    The NSPCC also asked just under 2,000 children and young people which social networking sites they used. Talking to strangers or sexual content were the main concerns mentioned by children. But they also thought the minimum age limit for signing up to many sites should be higher, despite saying they’d used the sites when they were underage.

    The NSPCC has used the reviews to create a new online guide to help inform parents about the risks of different social networking sites used by children.

    Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “Children are taught from an early age that it is good to share but doing so online can be very dangerous. We must all be Share Aware. This Christmas many children will have been given a smart phone, a tablet computer, or a games console. So it’s the perfect opportunity for parents to have that important conversation with their children about who they are talking to and what they share when they socialise online.

    “We know that children do take risks online, sometimes without realising it. And we know some parents feel confused by the internet – out of their depth, and out of control. Our Share Aware campaign gives parents straightforward, no-nonsense advice that will help them to untangle the web and feel confident talking to their children about online safety.

    “Keeping children safe online is the biggest child protection challenge of this generation. Parents have a vital role to play but we want social networking sites to respond to parental concerns about their children’s safety and privacy. The NSPCC will continue to challenge and work with internet companies and the Government to make the internet a safer place for children.”

    The NSPCC’s Share Aware campaign is aimed at parents of 8 to 12-year-old children and also features two animations to be shown on prime time TV and digital spaces. I Saw Your Willy and Lucy And The Boy are engaging films with a serious message that follow the stories of two children who share too much about themselves online. Both films contain the simple message that although children are taught that it’s good to share, this is not always the case online.

    People can find out more about the NSPCC campaign at www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware and join the debate on social media by following #ShareAware.

    Anyone looking for advice about keeping children safe online, or concerned about the safety and welfare of a child, can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

    Children worried about online safety or any other problem can call the free, 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111 or get help online at www.childline.org.uk

    Written by E-safety Support on January 22, 2015 13:37


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