Safer Internet Day Press Release 2018

06 Feb 2018 UK SIC

Research reveals realities of the double-edged sword of young people’s digital relationships

  • Two in five 8-17-year-olds say they have felt worried or anxious on the internet in the last week, with one in ten (11%) reporting they have often felt this
  • 68% of young people said that chatting to their friends online cheers them up
  • When a friend was feeling sad or upset, 88% of young people said they sent them a kind message
  • Almost half (49%) of young people said that in the last year someone had been mean to them online, with 1 in 12 experiencing this all or most of the time
  • In comparison, more than four in five young people (83%) have experienced people being kind to them online in the last year
  • The research has been released by the UK Safer Internet Centre, the official co-ordinators of Safer Internet Day

New research commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre, to mark Safer Internet Day 2018, 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.

This research comes as Safer Internet Day 2018 is being celebrated globally on Tuesday 6th February 2018 with the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you”. The campaign will begin with a mass tweet at 8:30am set to reach more than 9 million. More than a 1700 UK supporters are delivering activities for the day, including Government ministers, Premier League football clubs, industry, celebrities, charities, schools and police services. They will join together to inspire people throughout the UK to ignite conversations and host events that 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 shows that respondents have felt inspired (74%), excited (82%) or happy (89%) as a result of their internet use in the past week. In contrast, a smaller proportion reported to have felt sad (56%) or angry (52%) by what they came across online in the last seven days.

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.

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.

With reforms to Relationships and Sex Education on the horizon, it’s positive to see the majority (72%) of young people wanted their school to teach them about cyberbullying and how to manage friendships online. However, one in ten of those surveyed say that they have not been taught this in school.

The UK Safer Internet Centre – comprised of Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning – believe that the key to continuing the positive use of the internet is to empower young people with the skills they need to navigate the online world in a safe and respectful way, and to ensure schools, parents and carers and other members of the children’s workforce have the tools to support young people to do so.

With Safer Internet Day, the UK Safer Internet Centre is working with hundreds of other organisations to encourage more conversations at school and at home about young people’s online lives and how their actions online can affect relationships, empowering young people to use digital technology wisely. Schools across the UK will be using the UK Safer Internet Centre’s Education Packs and Safer Internet Day TV films to explore these issues, and later today the UK Safer Internet Centre will hosting events across the UK where young people will be meeting Ministers and other key decision makers.

Will Gardner, a Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet, says:

It’s clear that technology is having an impact on how young people develop relationships, interact with each other and express themselves. Today’s 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.

Safer Internet Day gives 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 come together today 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.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries says:

As today’s figures show, the Internet can and does have a positive effect on young people’s lives but we must all recognise the dangers that can be found online.

Only by working together can government, industry, parents, schools and communities harness the power of the internet for good and reduce its risks.

It is fantastic to see this ambition reflected on Safer Internet Day with hundreds of organisations coming together across the UK to raise awareness and empower young people.

For further media information, please contact Grace French or Beccy Churchill on or 020 3696 5800

Notes to editors:

About Safer Internet Day
Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people and inspire a national conversation.
Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries, coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe.

The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

About the research
The ‘Digital Friendships: Technology’s role in young people’s relationships’ survey was conducted online by Censuswide between 15-18th December 2017 with a representative sample of 2000 young people aged 8-17 years olds in the United Kingdom.

Censuswide is a full-service research consultancy specialising in consumer and B2B research. This research was conducted on Censuswide’s education network and participants under the age of 16 were contacted via their parents or guardians.

Safer Internet Day supporters
Safer Internet Day 2018 is being supported by over 1700 organisations and people. These include: Anti-Bulling Alliance, Barnardo’s, BBC, BBFC, Breck Foundation, BT, CEOP, Children’s Commissioner, The Diana Award, Facebook, Google UK, Instagram, Internet Matters, The LEGO Group, Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, NPCC, NSPCC, Oath, Ofcom, Samsung, Sky, Snap, TalkTalk, techUK, Twitter, Vodafone UK as well as Premier League football clubs, UK Government, police services, charities and schools across the UK. They are all coming together to deliver a range of inspiring activities.
See the full list of Safer Internet Day 2018 supporters.

About the UK Safer Internet Centre
The UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading charities – Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) – with a shared mission to make the internet a better place for children and young people. The partnership was appointed by the European Commission as the Safer Internet Centre for the UK in January 2011 and is one of the 31 Safer Internet Centres of the Insafe network. The UK Safer Internet Centre delivers a wide range of activities to promote the safe and responsible use of technology by children and young people. The centre has five main functions:

  • Education, training and awareness: increasing the UK’s resilience through innovative tools, services, resources, campaigns and training
  • Helpline: supporting the children’s workforce
  • Hotline: disrupting the distribution of child sexual abuse content
  • Youth Participation: giving youth a voice and inspiring active digital citizenship
  • Leadership and collaboration: creating a UK and global eco-system that embeds online safety

Supportive quotes

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James:

As today’s figures show, the Internet can and does have a positive effect on young people’s lives but we must all recognise the dangers that can be found online. Only by working together can government, industry, parents, schools and communities harness the power of the internet for good and reduce its risks. It is fantastic to see this ambition reflected on Safer Internet Day with hundreds of organisations coming together across the UK to raise awareness and empower young people.

Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi:

The internet is a powerful tool that can open doors for young people when used in the right way, and I’m pleased that this report shows many are seeing its benefits. However there are also risks to being active online, so we must all take action to ensure young people have the knowledge to help them feel safe. We are in the process of updating relationships and sex education to ensure it prepares young people for the challenges they face in the 21st century such as internet safety. Alongside this we have issued guidance to schools about the serious issue of cyberbullying.

Welsh Government Education Secretary Kirsty Williams:

I am delighted to see that this year’s Safer Internet Day theme is “Create, Connect and Share Respect”. There is a huge amount of work going on in Wales to help keep learners safe online. As well as working on an Online Safety Action Plan for Wales, we have also launched an ‘Online Safety Zone’ on our digital learning platform, Hwb, developed a tool which helps schools evaluate their online safety practice and delivered over 180 training sessions for teachers and governors across all local authorities in Wales since 2014. In addition, our Digital Competence Framework, the first element of the new curriculum to be introduced in Wales, includes specific elements on online behaviour, cyber bullying and health and well-being.

Scottish Government Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Maree Todd:

All children and young people should be able to enjoy the internet and benefit from the great opportunities the online world has to offer in a safe and secure environment, and it is our aim to ensure this happens. Safer Internet Day is an excellent opportunity to encourage young people to consider where the dangers lie online, as well as their online behaviour and the impact this can have on others. This year’s theme ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you’ promotes that important message, reminding them that the future of internet etiquette is in their hands. By educating young people about online safety and respecting themselves and those around them, we can ensure the internet remains a safe and enjoyable space as well as fantastic resource for them to explore and learn.

John Collings, Director of Education, Education Authority, Northern Ireland:

In Northern Ireland our vision is to inspire, support and challenge children to be the best that they can be. We want our pupils to be happy, achieve well and be safe. Safer Internet Day is an excellent opportunity to showcase the ways in which our schools are promoting the safe use of digital technology. It also gives our pupils the chance to demonstrate their skills and talents in the use of that technology. I am very proud of Northern Ireland’s work in this area and in particular C2k’s partnership with the UK Safer Internet Centre.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, National Policing Lead for Violence and Public Protection, Child Protection and Abuse Investigation:

Making the internet a safe place for children and young people continues to be a key focus of the National Police Chiefs Council. To achieve this, we work with NCA CEOP to bring those persons intent on abusing and exploiting children to justice. Equally important is the work which police and a range of partners like Childnet and the UK Safer Internet Centre undertake to educate and empower children and young people to stay safe online. Safer Internet day provides a great opportunity to promote internet safety across a range of audiences and is an event which I strongly support.

Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield:

The internet and social media are a permanent part of modern childhood and they offer huge opportunities to learn and connect. Safer Internet Day brings schools, parents, teachers and industry together to make sure children have the power, information and resilience they need to make safe and informed choices online. That means parents making sure their children have a healthy digital diet, social media companies taking more responsibility for protecting children from the internet’s negative side and Government working with schools to teach children the practical and emotional skills they need as they navigate their way through the digital world.

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People:

When our children are growing up we teach them how to cross the road safely, giving them the independence and confidence to do this themselves. Sometimes we hold their hand and other times we check to see they are continuing to use safe routes. In the same way it is important we are there to support, educate and guide our young people as they navigate a safe path when they are online.

Professor Sonia Livingstone, ‘Global Kids Online’ and ‘Parenting.Digital’, LSE:

How can parents and educators encourage children and young people to explore and enjoy the riches of the internet when, as this new research for Safer Internet Day 2018 shows, two in five have felt worried or anxious online in the last week? It’s time for policy makers to sort out these problems so that society can focus on promoting children’s positive rights in the digital age.

Martha Evans, National Coordinator, Anti-Bullying Alliance:

Safer Internet Day helps us to raise awareness of the need to support children and young people to know how to keep safe, have fun and be connected online. That is why the Anti-Bullying Alliance are proud to be one of the organisations supporting Safer Internet Day and why we stand in solidarity with all children, young people and adults that lead by example and take active steps to unite for a better internet.

Javed Khan, Chief Executive, Barnardo’s:

It’s essential we all strive to make the digital world a safer place for children. Safer Internet Day importantly encourages tech companies, the Government and organisations to work together and put appropriate safeguards in place to protect children. All too often our specialist services see how online spaces are used to exploit the most vulnerable children. That’s why parents need to understand the technology their children are using and have honest conversations with them about who they’re talking to and how to stay safe online.

Alice Webb, Director BBC Children’s:

Safer Internet Day is a great moment to teach children how to stay safe online, but it’s also about helping children develop their confidence and resilience online too. We’re supporting Safer Internet Day through BBC Own It, informing and empowering young people to deal with the complex emotional and practical challenges they face online every day.

David Austin, Chief Executive, BBFC:

The BBFC is delighted to support Safer Internet Day 2018. Seeing children working together to help make the internet a positive and safe place for them to watch, share, enjoy and create content is incredibly encouraging. We are also proud to be working alongside all the organisations taking part this year who continue to work hard to ensure the internet is a positive and safe environment for children. We will champion Safer Internet Day by recommending children and their parents access our CBBFC website to see child-friendly BBFC insight, and reminding parents to download our free BBFC app, to ensure they have access to age ratings and BBFCinsight guidance for films and video ondemand content they want to watch online.

Lorin LaFave, Founder of The Breck Foundation:

Our team at The Breck Foundation is looking forward to Safer Internet Day 2018, so that together we may reach more children with awareness, education and resilience to learn, live, socialise and game online safely. We suggest that everyone from little ones to grans take part in our NoTech4Breck Day by simply choosing any day in February to have a break from all technology to spend the original ‘facetime’ with family and friends, talking about Breck’s real life story to educate our loved ones about the issues and dangers that they may face online, and creating a bit of cyberbalance at the same time.
Can you meet the challenge?

Marc Allera, CEO Consumer, BT:

BT is proud to support Safer Internet Day 2018. We are committed to keeping families safe online, and Safer Internet Day provides a key moment to inspire a national conversation about these important issues. We will be hosting the UK Safer Internet Centre’s youth event at BT Centre which will bring together young people and key policymakers, and we’re training staff in over 600 EE stores to provide support on online safety topics to even more parents across the UK. We hope the day will inspire parents and carers to have open and honest conversations about online safety and highlight the ongoing work to make the internet a better and safer place for children.

Alex Holmes, Deputy CEO, The Diana Award:

We’re proud to support Safer Internet Day and will be encouraging all our schools and Ambassadors to get involved. Days like these bring out the best of the Internet and show how together we can shine a light on the positive part that technology plays in the lives of children of young people as well as the risks it brings. We look forward to once again seeing everyone come together from government, industry, businesses, schools and charity sector to support this important day.

Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety, Facebook:

Nearly 9 out of 10 kids say they send their friends a kind message when they feel sad or upset. Nearly 7 out of 10 say chatting online with their friends cheers them up. These numbers reflect the incredibly positive role social technologies can play in young people’s lives. At Facebook, we want the time that young people spend online to be time well spent, to bring them closer together. That’s why we are proud to support Safer Internet Day and continue to introduce new ways to keep young people safe – from our Parents Portal to help answer questions about how Facebook works to our in-school program, offering digital safety ambassadors to every UK secondary school in partnership with Childnet International and The Diana Award. We want young people and those who care for
them to have access to the information and guidance they need to feel safe and build community.

Katie O’Donovan, Head of Public Policy Google UK:

Technology has an incredible ability to unlock creativity and engagement for young people, but we also all have a responsibility to ensure it can be used safely. Google works hard to support young people’s online experience through education and technology; we are proud to support the Safer Internet Centre, and be part of the efforts to encourage a safer online world.

Michelle Napchan, Instagram Head of Policy, EMEA:

We are proud supporters of Safer Internet Day and committed to helping young people live healthy digital lives. Young people use Instagram to express themselves, connect with people and discover new interests. Keeping Instagram a kind, safe and supportive place for self-expression has always been our key priority. In the last year, we have worked with industry experts and created new features and resources to help young people and their parents have a positive and safe experience on our platform.

Carolyn Bunting, CEO, Internet Matters:

Internet Matters is delighted to support Safer Internet Day as it shares our goal; to raise awareness of child online safety. We hope that today will serve as a reminder to parents that the online world provides children with untold opportunities when they connect, create and share both safely and responsibly. We also hope that by joining together with key organisations, we can all help encourage parents to get involved in their children’s digital lives from the earliest possible age.

Laura Di Bonaventura, Marketing Director, Kids Engagement, The LEGO Group:

We are delighted to celebrate Safer Internet Day as safety is our highest priority when developing LEGO products and it is also reflected in our work to ensure safe digital LEGO experiences. Our new safety character Cybie is designed to connect with children in LEGO Life and will provide tips and activities to empower children to be safe, positive and creative online.

Leigh Smyth, Group Transformation Lead for Culture and Capability, Lloyds Banking Group:

Lloyds Banking Group is once again proud to support Safer Internet Day. The internet is a key enabler in today’s society and giving children and young adults the skills to feel confident and safe online is absolutely crucial. With our network of over 25,500 Digital Champions across the UK, we’re encouraging colleagues to get involved with volunteering at local schools or supporting events in their local community networks throughout February.

Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft:

We’re proud to be participating in Safer Internet Day in 2018 for our fourteenth year, and we’re eager to engage even more youths and adults around the world in our Digital Civility Challenge. Individuals can voluntarily commit to four ideals and use #challenge4civility or #Im4digitalcivility to help embody and advocate for growing a kinder, more empathetic and respectful online world. Our new Council for Digital Good is also in full swing with 15 U.S. teens working on fostering safe and healthy online interactions among their peers, family, schools and communities. We’re also sharing new research from our latest study in 23 countries, “Civility, Safety and Interactions Online – 2017.” Learn more at

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT:

Safer Internet Day provides a great opportunity for school leaders to emphasise to pupils and parents alike that while the internet provides a powerful source of information, it needs to be handled carefully. It’s vital that schools and families work together to give young people the tools they need to navigate the internet safely. Whilst this is already happening in many schools, progress is being held back because Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) has not yet been given statutory status alongside Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). Online safety must be seen as part of a bigger picture in schools for pupils of all ages.

Chris Keates, General Secretary, NASUWT:

Technology has transformed the learning experiences of many children and young people and made significant improvements to the working lives of many teachers. However, the abuse and misuse of technology continues to blight the lives of pupils and teachers, adversely affecting their health and well-being. The NASUWT continues to campaign for greater protection for pupils and teachers from cyber-bullying and sexual harassment online and provides advice, guidance and training to help create safer work places and learning environments. The NASUWT is pleased to support Safer Internet Day
to provide the opportunity to celebrate the positive benefits of the internet while raising awareness of the dangers.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary, National Education Union:

Access to the internet opens up endless opportunities for learning, and learning how to keep safe online is an essential part of this, which is why the National Education Union is proud to support Safer Internet Day.

Marie Smith, Head of Education, National Crime Agency CEOP Command:

The National Crime Agency CEOP Command continues to support the ongoing work of the UK Safer Internet Centre and is proud to support Safer Internet Day. NCA CEOP will continue to work collectively with the UK Safer Internet Centre, as well as other key partners, to achieve our common goal. We would like to encourage everyone to commit their ongoing support to doing as much as they can to keep children safe online.

Peter Wanless, CEO, NSPCC:

The internet is an amazing place for young people to learn, create and build friendships so it’s vital their online world is a safe one. We all have a responsibility to ensure children are kept safe online so they can enjoy the positives without being exposed to risks including inappropriate content or online abuse. That’s why the NSPCC is pleased to be supporting Safer Internet Day as it brings tech companies, government, law enforcement and communities together to work towards creating a safer internet for children so they can benefit from the exciting possibilities it offers.

Emma Ascroft, Senior Director, Public Policy at Oath:

As Oath, we are proud to be building on Yahoo’s longstanding relationship with Safer Internet Day. The initiative gets bigger every year and we’re excited to see the education packs expanding to reach many more schools and other educational institutions. Education on how to stay safe on the internet is both essential and invaluable and we are committed to promoting safe and responsible use of internet-enabled products and services for young people.

Emily Keaney, Head of Children’s Research, Ofcom:

Today is an important opportunity to celebrate what the internet can offer today’s youngsters, but also to raise awareness of risks and how our online behaviour can affect others. Encouragingly, our research shows older children already taking action against damaging online content. But it’s important we continue to educate youngsters from an early age, and give them the right practical tools and advice to help create a safer, more positive online community. We’re pleased to pledge our continued support for Safer Internet Day.

Aleyne Johnson, Head of Government Relations, Samsung:

Samsung is delighted to support Safer Internet Day again this year. This time we are helping the campaign reach an even wider audience by promoting it on the world famous and iconic Piccadilly Circus screens. We continue to support this important work through a range of family-safety features and settings on our products and activities that are designed to provide protection for children.

Lucy Murphy, Head of Sky Kids:

Through our Sky Kids app and Sky Broadband Shield we create safe places that parents can trust for children online. Without the right safeguards to protect young people, the internet can quickly become an unpleasant, hostile environment. As technology has an ever growing impact on the lives of young people, increasing awareness of its risks becomes ever more important. Safer Internet Day plays a significant role in highlighting these risks and the dangers present online.

Claire Valoti, General Manager Northern Europe at Snap:

Our products empower people to express themselves and live in the moment. We want everyone to be able to use Snapchat safely and enjoyably. We know there is always more we can do and we continually strive to improve our service: from introducing new easy to use in-app reporting tools, to launching a pilot programme with the NSPCC to make it easier for Snapchatters to get emotional support when faced with bullying. Snap is a proud supporter of Safer Internet Day. We believe it plays a vital role is raising awareness of online safety issues. Our global filters running today are to remind Snapchatters everywhere that a safer Internet really does start with each and every one of us.

Tristia Harrison, CEO, TalkTalk:

It’s great that Safer Internet Day found that children are now more likely to have a positive experience rather than a negative one online. However, as the pace of technological change is ever increasing, it’s important that we all stay one step ahead. That is why we’re supporting our partners at Internet Matters who have been developing new guidance on parental controls which will provide parents with the support and tools they need to continue protecting their children online.

Julian David, CEO of techUK:

Every year, tech innovations bring to new products, new opportunities and new challenges. Safer Internet Day 2018 shines a light on the importance of creating, connecting and sharing respect as we use new online tools. We are pleased to be a partner for this important initiative which provides a constructi

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