Over 80% of UK children have witnessed online hate over the past year with a quarter specifically targeted, according to a new study designed to raise awareness of these issues as global initiative Safer Internet Day (SID) kicks off today.
Under the banner this year of “Play your part for a better internet,” the event is being held in over 100 countries around the world and aims to make the net a safer, more inclusive place.
However, an online poll of 1500 young people conducted in the UK has found there is still much work to do.
More than four in five said they had seen or heard offensive, mean or threatening behavior aimed at someone because of their race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Although a resounding majority of respondents (94%) said that this kind of thing should never happen, around three-quarters (74%) feel the need to self-censor what they say online for fear of inciting more hate speech.
Over 1000 organizations across the UK will take part in awareness-raising activities today in support of SID, with big names such as the BBC, Google, Instagram, Microsoft and the Premier League taking part alongside government ministers and celebrities.
“While it is encouraging to see that almost all young people believe no one should be targeted with online hate, and heartening to hear about the ways young people are using technology to take positive action online to empower each other and spread kindness, we were surprised and concerned to see that so many had been exposed to online hate in the last year,” said SID director, Will Gardner.
“It is a wake-up call for all of us to play our part in helping create a better internet for all, to ensure that everyone can benefit from the opportunities that technology provides for building mutual respect and dialogue, facilitating rights, and empowering everyone to be able to express themselves and be themselves online – whoever they are.”
Coinciding with the event, cybersecurity accreditation body CREST has joined forces with the National Crime Agency (NCA) to produce a new paper designed to show young people the consequences of getting involved in cybercrime.
It’s hoped the paper will highlight the benefits to youngsters of turning their technical ability instead towards a career in cybersecurity.
Several vendors have released research today to show the darker side of the internet.
An Intel Security study of 1000 children in the UK found that over a quarter (28%) have had a conversation with a stranger online, while one third said they aren’t supervised by their parents when surfing the web.
“Teaching children the best practices for safe online behavior right from the start will be invaluable to them as they grow up,” argued Intel Security consumer vice president, Nick Viney.
“We all have a responsibility – parents, teachers and technology experts – to ensure children understand how to protect themselves from the potential risks online, and that comes as a result of greater education and by having ongoing conversations with children.”