Digital Awareness UK and HMC have produced a report that highlights some of the current online trends in the way young people are using technology.
The research was done with 11 – 16 year old students from state and independent schools. The reports was commissioned by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) as part of its Tech Control campaign and it was based on face to face sessions with more than 50,000 pupils.
Here are some of the most significant findings:
Young people are taking more responsibility for managing their own screen time.
This could be due to increased awareness around the impacts of screen time on our mental health. The report shows that young people are taking steps to self-regulate their screen usage.
Digital issues are going underground due to a decline in reporting.
Students are becoming less likely to speak to teachers and adults about challenges and experiences they are having online. This can be because students are concerned that reporting an issue they are having online which cause the situation to get worse, or they are concerned about getting into trouble.
When we deliver internet safety workshops and internet safety training in schools, teachers are often surprised to discover the number of their students who are already active on social media. This is an example of students often do not talk openly about what they do online with parents and teachers.
Young people are seeking emotional support.
A new trend is that of ‘Sadfishing’. This is the name given to describe the act of posting about emotional challenges online in a public place. This can then engender responses from others who offer support or likes.
There has been an increase in these kinds of posts. Many people are critical of these kinds of posts arguing that they may romanticise challenging mental health problems are that they are attention seeking.
However ‘Sadfishing’ could increase the likelihood of young people becoming a target of cyberbullying or grooming.
Growing scepticism towards tech companies.
There is increased scepticism about large tech companies intentions to keep young people safe online. Young people are dubious over these companies capacity to make positive change in this area.
Increased use of anonymous apps leads to abuse.
Young people are increasingly turning to platforms that allow anonymous posting to gain feedback. This can be feedback on their appearance, or on a choice they should make. An app commonly used for this is Yolo
These anonymous platforms can become host to abusive, bullying comments. The nature of the apps also represent a risk to vulnerable young people who may be turning to such platforms as a way of making a decision or as a way of informing their self-image.
It’s research such as this along with open dialogue with students and schools that help us to create workshops are relevant and relatable for young people. As part of Anti-Bullying Week 2019 we will be visiting thousands of students throughout November delivering Anti-Bullying Workshops and Anti-Bullying Shows.