One Third Of UK Children “Targeted By Negative Online Behaviour” Last Year

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A study published for Safer Internet Day has found that young people have a positive Internet experience overall

Nearly a third of British 11 to 16-year-olds have experienced cruel behaviour online in the past year, while 13 percent feel that people post negative, mean, critical or upsetting things all or most of the time on social networks or mobile messaging applications, a survey has found.

One in twenty of those surveyed said they felt people were mean to them “most of the time” online, according to a commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre as part of Safer Internet Day.

Positive experiences

NetworksBut the study also found that young people’s online experience was positive on the whole, with two-thirds saying they felt able to cope with online problems. Sixty-three percent said the Internet has brought them closer to their friends, while the same proportion said people were “kind” to them on the Internet all or most of the time.

Safer Internet Day, which has the backing of politicians and major Internet companies, is intended to help young people build a positive online experience for themselves and to encourage dialogue between children and parents about online issues, according to the event’s organisers.

“It’s heartening to hear that the majority of young people are finding the internet a positive place on the whole, but there’s more to be done to make sure that’s the experience for everyone,” said Will Gardner, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, in a statement.

“We’re encouraging everyone to take action today – whether that’s sharing a smiley face or making a promise about your online behaviour.”

The report found that 26 percent of British 11 to 16-year-olds use six or more social networks or messaging applications every week, with YouTube and Facebook being the most popular, used respectively by 78 percent and 74 percent of the age group.

Snapchat is used by 46 percent, Instagram by 43 percent, Twitter and WhatsApp both 37 percent and Skype and Minecraft, whch has social features, both 32 percent

Taking action

The report found that young people are capable of taking action to counter negative online behaviour, with 75 percent saying they have blocked another user, 68 percent having supported someone who was targeted and 74 percent saying they have stood up to someone who was targeting them.

Events across the country are to feature the debut of a film called #Up2Us, in which more than 150 schoolchildren talking about their online experiences, and Safer Internet Day TV (SID TV), an online television programme featuring advice and practical information aimed at young people.

The UK Safer Internet Centre is also publishing online resources for parents and carers, including a fact-sheet, conversation points and education packs for teachers.

Politicians including digital economy minister Ed Vaizey, Baroness Sheilds, the Prime Minister’s digital advisor, and Labour leader Ed Milliband are backing the event.

“It is vital that we have a safe digital environment where young people feel confident and comfortable to go online,” stated Baroness Shields. “One of my main priorities working in government has been tackling child exploitation online and this is something that I know we can all help fight together.”

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