Recent research commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre has revealed that young people are more likely to have a positive experience than a negative experience when online.
The study, which surveyed 2,000 8 -17 year olds on their feelings and attitudes towards social media, revealed that despite the often-publicised negative effects of social media use, the internet plays a pivotal and positive role in how young people develop relationships and maintain their social lives in 2018.
Safer Internet Day
Safer Internet Day was celebrated in February with the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you”.
The campaign saw more than 1700 UK supporters delivering activities for the day, including Government ministers, Premier League football clubs, industry, celebrities, charities, schools and police services.
They joined together to inspire people throughout the UK to ignite conversations and host events to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
Reporting on young people’s online experiences, the research by UK Safer Internet Centre shows that respondents have felt inspired (74%), excited (82%) or happy (89%) as a result of their internet use. In contrast, a smaller proportion reported to have felt sad (56%) or angry (52%) by what they came across online.
When things do go wrong, young people feel confident to reach out to their networks for support and guidance, with 60% saying they talk to friends when someone upsets them online. Slightly higher, 62% turn to their parents and carers for guidance.
Young people also feel passionately about their online community with almost four in five (78%) of those surveyed claiming to believe that every person on the internet has a responsibility to be respectful to others.
Demonstrating empathy and support online, 88% said that when a friend was feeling sad or upset they had sent a kind message. More than half (54%) said they’d feel isolated if they couldn’t talk to their friends via technology.
Bullying, Exclusion and Pressures
However, many young people also face bullying, exclusion and a range of pressures to maintain their friendships and popularity.
Almost half (47%) of respondents said that people had excluded them online in the last year, with 60% thinking it is important for friends to include them in group chats.
Almost three-quarters (73%), say it’s important for their friends to reply to their messages as soon as they’ve seen them. Still, many young people are rejecting these pressures with 35% saying that they do not feel they must use social media to be popular or liked.
It’s clear that technology is having an impact on how young people develop relationships, interact with each other and express themselves. The research findings are encouraging, highlighting that the majority of young people’s experiences of the internet are positive in this regard. However, we also see that there is a negative side, including where young people face pressures in their online friendships.Will Gardner A Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet
He added: “Awareness Days – such as Safer Internet Day – give us the unique opportunity to collectively promote respect and empathy online, inspire young people to harness their enthusiasm and creativity, and support them to build positive online experiences for everyone. It is inspirational to see so many different organisations and individuals coming together to build a better internet. We want to make sure that every young person feels equipped and empowered to make positive decisions when interacting online – be it on gaming sites, messaging apps or social sharing platforms.”
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