Ofcom Releases Online Nation Report
Ofcom has released a new Online Nation report to show data around how people in the UK use the internet. The report breaks down the findings around what benefits and harms were being seen from people online, along with insight about particular tech platforms, and what online activity trends were apparent across the UK. Overall, the report outlines both positive and negative findings with user experience data showing a range of conclusions. Take a look below at what was found.
Online Nation Findings
From the user experience data gathered, a major finding concluded that ‘most UK internet users (67%) feel that the benefits of being online outweigh the risks’ with 43% agreeing that ‘being online has an overall positive impact on their mental health’. As well as this, ‘the majority (59%) of children aged 8-15 report that using social media, and messaging sites and apps, makes them happy all or most of the time’.
Despite this, some of the findings around online harm show some concern around what risks are currently being posed towards users. From the report, it was found that:
- Women are more affected by discriminatory, hateful and trolling content whilst feeling less confident about being online than men. ‘60% of female users who had experienced trolling most recently said they were bothered or offended by that experience, compared to 25% of men’
- 62% of internet users aged 13+ ‘encountered at least one potential harm online in the last four weeks’. The most common harm was listed as scamming attacks such as phishing and fraud attempts.
- Users are most likely to encounter potential online harm when using social media. 47% reported coming across a potential harm when using social media platforms
- 1/3 of children aged 8-15 who go online have seen worrying or upsetting content online in the past 12 months. It was encouraging to see though that the majority (63%) of 8-15 year olds would tell someone if they saw something upsetting and 88% said they would tell a parent.
- Six in ten users took some sort of action when encountering harmful content or behaviour online. This included blocking or unfollowing people, with a fifth of users reporting or flagging content.
David Wright (CEO of SWGfL and Director of UK Safer Internet Centre) said:
‘‘This new report by Ofcom is showing us the online landscape as it stands. No doubt, when the Online Safety Bill is in effect, their position as regulator will address these issues head on and will hopefully bring some much-needed change. Some of the issues brought forward are concerning, especially the alarming data around women’s safety online. Our work on the Revenge Porn Helpline over 2021 showed that 75% of cases reported about intimate image abuse were being reported by female victims, showing similar gender issues being seen across the board.
The report has shown encouraging findings as well though, especially the overall positive impact being online has had towards users as well as the data showing young children communicating concerns to others. It is important to remember that those who feel victimised or are concerned about harmful online content can get the right support through the UK Safer Internet Centre and the supportive services it offers.’’
Remember to reach out and get support if you are a victim of online harm:
- Intimate Image Abuse (Revenge Porn Helpline)
- A victim or witness to legal but harmful online material (Report Harmful Content)
- An online safety concern if you’re a professional working with children and young people (Professionals Online Safety Helpline)
- A harmful sexual behaviour concern if you’re a professional working with young people affected by harmful sexual behaviour incidents (Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service from SWGfL)