Safer Internet Day Press Release 2019

05 Feb 2019 UK SIC

Permission to share?

Young people struggle to resolve “consent confusion” online

  • New research reveals the positives and challenges of young people sharing content online
  • Sharing content online seen as critical to connecting with the world and making a positive difference – but a lack of clarity around consent causes confusion and young people struggle to navigate ‘the rules’
  • Figures show a mismatch between young people’s attitudes to online sharing, and their actions
  • Research released by the UK Safer Internet Centre, official co-ordinators of Safer Internet Day, as part of this year’s campaign with over 2000 organisations coming together to support the day

New research commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre reveals how sharing and viewing content is integral to the lives of young people, and the positives and challenges that come with this.

The research comes as more than 2,000 supporters in the UK, including Government ministers, Premier League football clubs, industry bodies, celebrities, charities, schools and police services join together with young people, 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.

In an increasingly digitised world, with young people sharing a variety of content every day, 65% say they would feel disconnected from the world if they couldn’t be online. Helping them to make sense of their daily lives and wider society, 70% of young people say being online helps them understand what’s happening in the world and 60% only know about certain issues or news because of the internet.

Crucially, young people are using the internet as a safe space to understand and navigate topics they’re nervous to ask about, with 67% saying it’s easier to learn about them online. Encouragingly, the internet has helped almost half (46%) through a difficult time.

With technology enabling us to connect and learn faster than ever, 48% of young people say being online makes them feel like their voices and actions matter. Maximising on the collective power of the internet, 42% have been inspired to take positive action by sharing support for a campaign, social movement or petition.

However, the myriad of ways in which young people connect online means they must also navigate the complexities of asking for and giving permission before sharing. Young people have a strong sense of right and wrong online, with an overwhelming 84% believing everyone has a responsibility to respect others. However, in practice almost half (48%) admit their peers don’t always think before they post. 36% of young people are sharing screenshots of other peoples’ photos, comments or messages at least weekly,

This exposes young people to a confusing landscape when it comes to online consent, and a lack of consensus on how to navigate this. Half of young people (51%) think their friends should ask for permission before tagging them or sharing a photo or video of them, while 37% think their parents should ask. Furthermore, 27% are likely to read a friend’s messages without their permission.

Young people are also not asking permission before posting, despite 81% knowing when and how to ask. Consequently, in the last year over half of young people (52%) said someone they know shared a photo or video of them without asking.

This breach of consent can leave young people feeling anxious or not in control (39%), with a lack of clarity clearly having a real impact on their lives.

Even when permission is sought, young people are facing further pressures. Despite feeling confident telling their friends (82%) and parents (85%) not to share something about them online, in practice it can be difficult to say no. In the last year, 34% have said yes to something about them being shared online, even though they didn’t want it to be.

The ‘rules’ are also confused when consent is breached. Whilst the majority of young people would always remove something they’d posted about a friend if asked to, 36% would not. Encouragingly, young people do rally against injustices they see online and 68% would report something that had been shared about them without permission. 63% would report if it happened to a friend.

The UK Safer Internet Centre (comprised of Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning) believes it is crucial to bridge the gap between young people’s attitudes and behaviours online. With Safer Internet Day, the Centre is collaborating with hundreds of organisations across the UK to empower young people with clear strategies and guidance to navigate the internet in a safe and respectful way. The Centre has also developed educational resources to equip parents, schools and other members of the children’s workforce with tools to support young people.

Will Gardner OBE, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, says:

“There can be no doubt that sharing and connecting with others online is an integral part of everyday life for young people. Today’s findings are encouraging, highlighting how young people have a strong sense of what is right online, and are harnessing the internet to make a positive difference for themselves and others.

“However, our research shows that without clear guidance for navigating the complexities of online consent, the gap between young people’s attitudes and behaviours is striking.

“Safer Internet Day provides a unique opportunity to address this gap, by listening to young people’s experiences, leading by example, and encouraging conversations about our online lives.

“It is vital that we – from an individual to an industry level – take responsibility to support young people to navigate consent online and put their positive attitudes into action. We must move beyond advising them only on what they should do online, and work with them to understand how to do this in practice.

“In doing so, we can empower young people, and those that support them, to be better able to harness and use the positive power of the internet for good.”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

 “The internet can be an amazing resource. Used wisely, it can open up a world of information and learning, but as any parent knows only too well these days, with these benefits come serious and real dangers online.

 “We must provide children with the skills to use technology and take advantage of the online world effectively and safely. We are making Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in all secondary schools, to sit alongside the existing Computing curriculum. Teachers will address online safety and appropriate behaviour in a way that is relevant to pupils’ lives.

 “All children will be taught about online friendships as well as to face-to-face relationships. I want children to understand that the same rules of good behaviour and kindness that they are taught in the playground also apply online.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“As a parent, I know how important it is to keep children safe online.

“The internet can be a fantastic place to connect with people and share information, but it can also be exploited by criminals and abusers. It’s great to see more than 2,000 organisations come together on Safer Internet Day to promote the positive power of digital technology.

“The Government is committed to keeping children safe online. We are working closely with the technology industry to make the internet a safer and more responsible place.”


The full research report can be read here: 


For media information and to arrange interviews, please contact Grace French or Eryl Bradley on:

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.

The global theme for Safer Internet Day is “Together for a better internet”, with this year’s UK campaign entitled “Our Internet, Our Choice.”

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.

For more information on Safer Internet Day 2019, please visit:

About the research
The ‘Our Internet, Our Choice: Understanding Consent in a Digital World’ survey was conducted online by Censuswide between 12th-17th December 2018, with a representative sample of 2,004 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 2019 is being supported by over 2000 organisations and high profile people. These the UK Government, high profile individuals such as Natasha Devon MBE and Professor Sonia Livingstone and organisations such as Anti-Bulling Alliance, Barnardo’s, BBC, BBFC, Breck Foundation, BT, CEOP, CHIS, Children’s Commissioner, The Diana Award, Facebook, Google EMEA, Instagram, Internet Matters, The LEGO Group, Microsoft, Mumsnet, NAHT, NCA, NEU, NPCC, NSPCC, Ofcom, Samsung, Sky, Snap Inc, techUK, Twitter, Verizon Media, as well as police services, charities and schools across the UK, who are all coming together to deliver a range of inspiring activities.

See a full list of Safer Internet Day 2019 supporters and their supportive quotes

Read the Welsh Press Release here.

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

Additional research
Consent on private and public platforms:

  • Young people recognise the difference between public and private online spaces with almost a third (32%) saying it’s ok to share a photo or video with others that has been made public. In comparison, only 9% think it’s ok to share something that has been sent in a direct message
  • Almost three-quarters of 8-17s (74%) say they are likely to check with a friend before adding them to a group chat
  • Almost a third (32%) are unlikely to ask the people around them if it is ok to go live
  • 44% have had someone send them a screenshot of a private conversation with someone else

Harnessing the internet for good:

  • 70% of young people say being online helps them understand what’s happening in the world
  • 63% of young people say there are more positive things about being online than there are negative things
  • 43% of young people feel empowered by being online
  • 48% of young people say being online makes them feel like their voices and actions matter
  • Almost half of young people (47%) say they can make a positive difference for themselves and others by being online
  • The internet has helped 46% of young people through a difficult time
  • 42% of young people have been inspired to take positive action by sharing support for a campaign, social movement or petition
  • 62% of young people say that being online helps them feel part of a bigger community
  • 54% would post about something they’ve seen that’s unfair, to raise awareness

Supportive Quotes:

Minister for Digital Margot James said:

“In 2019 the government will be setting out new laws to tackle online harms, and leading the world by bringing in age verification for online pornography. But it is crucial that there is continued collaboration across the UK to achieve our aim of making the UK the safest place in the world to be online.
“Young people deserve access to the support and advice they need to navigate the online world, including on the challenging issue of consent, and this lies at the very heart of Safer Internet Day.”

Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People, Scottish Government:

“The internet is becoming increasingly central to our lives and especially the lives of our children and young people. It connects and empowers us, and it is important that we ensure that children and young people are able to enjoy the internet, show resilience and take advantage of the many opportu-nities it has to offer in a way that is safe and supported.
That is why we are delighted to work with the UK Safer Internet Centre to raise awareness and pro-mote Safer Internet Day in Scotland. This year’s theme looks at understanding how consent works in a digital world and reminds us of the importance of understanding healthy, respectful, consensual and safe relationships and that we all have a responsibility to respect each other’s privacy and consent.”

Education Minister for Wales, Kirsty Williams:

“I’m proud that the Welsh Government is able to support Safer Internet Day. This year’s theme of ‘Together for a better internet’ really resonates with the great deal of work we have been doing in Wales. Last year we published our Online Safety Action Plan for Wales which sets out how the Welsh Government works with teachers, parents and carers, learners and partners across Wales to keep our children and young people safe online. This action plan provides a focus for our online safety work, which has always been a key priority for me both as Education Minister, and as a parent. We have also invested in building digital tools to assist our learners which have been very successful, such as the Hwb Online Safety Zone and our bilingual online safety self-assessment tool 360 degree safe Cymru.
I encourage all of our schools to take full advantage of the fantastic Safer Internet Day Education Packs that are available bilingually on our Hwb Online Safety Zone, which includes a specially com-missioned SID preparation pack, to ensure that our children and young people know how to stay safe online in today’s evolving digital world.”

Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield:

“The internet remains a fantastic resource for children, and can provide limitless positive experiences for them. However as a reflection of real life the internet still has some dark corners and spaces that are simply not appropriate or safe for children. On this Safer Internet Day I want the many platforms that have grown immensely rich and powerful over the last decade to redouble their efforts to seriously tackle inappropriate or harmful content, and to do so quicker and with more transparency. The ball is now firmly in their court as children, parents and many others have become only too aware that what is being done by social media companies and others in the field currently does not go far enough. They have the power to create fantastic user experiences, they have the responsibility and expertise to eliminate harmful ones. The desire to produce the former must never come at the expense of the latter.”

Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children & Young People said:

“The importance of supporting Safer Internet Day increases year on year as the internet and particularly social media evolves to create more challenges for our children and young people. We continue to spend more and more time online every day and we are all responsible for making sure our children stay safe.
“Safer Internet Day 2019 empowers young people to take control of their lives in the digital world and highlights the importance of understanding how to ask, give, and receive consent online. The companies we interact with online have a duty of care to protect our children from harm and be transparent in the data they collect and how this information is used.”

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland:

“Whilst the digital age provides immense opportunities for children to exercise their rights to participation and accessing information, it brings with it significant challenges too. It is important that children know how to use the internet safely and securely and that they know what to do should they feel uncomfortable, afraid or unsafe. Safer Internet Day’s provision of educational resources for adults and children and young people are helpful tools to create necessary and open discussion on consent, personal safety and how to protect yourself online.”

Natasha Devon MBE, Body Image and Mental Health Campaigner:

“My experience working with schools has taught me that a ‘zero tolerance’ or scaremongering approach to the web is ineffective and unrealistic. Tech is an inextricable part of young people’s lives and it’s our duty to help them navigate that world in a way that’s smart and safe. That’s why I’m delighted to support Safer Internet Day, which does exactly that.”

Professor Sonia Livingstone, Parenting for a Digital Future, LSE:

“As we release our new findings on how children with special educational needs and disabilities are more likely to encounter harm online, I am confident that Safer Internet Day 2019 will promote lots of valuable resources to support them and their parents.”

Martha Evans, National Coordinator, Anti-Bullying Alliance:

“It is vital that we all do more, including industry, schools, parents and the wider community to help make the online world a place where children and young people can stay safe, have fun and be connected. Which is why Safer Internet Day remains an important date in the calendar and why the Anti-Bullying Alliance are proud to be one of the organisations supporting it. We must lead by example and take active steps to unite for a better internet.”

Javed Khan, Chief Executive, Barnardo’s:

“The internet has transformed how young people learn, socialise and communicate – generating fantastic new opportunities. But sadly the online work also brings new dangers – including online grooming, cyber-bullying and gaming addiction.
We all have a role to play in making the internet a safer place for children. The Government and tech giants need to work together to protect children from harmful content. And schools, parents and carers can support young people to make safe choices online, and to understand what is and isn’t safe to share on social media.
Barnardo’s has long provided advice and guidance to the vulnerable young people we support through our UK-wide specialist services, an increasing number of whom have experienced harm online.
We’re delighted to be supporting Safer Internet Day once again and welcome its contribution to ensuring that child online safety stays at the heart of public debate.”

Alice Webb, Director, BBC Children’s:

“We’re delighted to support Safer Internet Day through BBC Own It – a tool to inform and empower young people to deal with the challenges they face online every day. It’s is a great moment to remind kids how to stay safe online, whilst helping to develop their confidence and resilience in this space.”

David Austin, Chief Executive, BBFC:

“Our purpose at the BBFC is to help families and young people chose the right films, video and web-site content that is right for them. We are proud to be supporting Safer Internet Day 2019, by high-lighting research from our recent consultation of over 10,000 members of the public, which found that with more young people watching films online than ever before, there is now a greater need for more visible and trusted age ratings online. In fact, 95 per cent of teenagers told us they think it’s important to have consistent age ratings across online platforms and we are actively working with the industry to ensure this happens. Our education team work with teachers and schools to produce a range of re-sources specifically designed for young people, to help them make informed viewing choices. These are available on our CBBFC website and include a PSHE Association accredited teaching resource for key stage two learners; Lets’ Watch a Film! Making choices about what to watch’ and specifically tailored Classification Guidance and ratings info for children and young people. And with the Digital Economy Act due to come in to effect later this year, as the designated age-verification regulator, we will have more powers to help ensure that the UK is one of the safest places in the world for children to be online.”

Lorin LaFave, Founder and Head of Education and External Affairs, Breck Foundation:

“For Safer Internet Day 2019 we are truly working “Together for a Better Internet”. The time could not be more right to finally get regulation where children work and play on the Internet. Only together can we keep children safer online through education, empowerment, digital resilience and governance. Breck Foundation will be speaking at lunchtime in the offices of Yoti in The City with employees as well as parents who work in the area. We also welcome schools and families to participate in a NoTech4Breck Day in February to spend time together discussing the issues faced online, to think about whether we have cyber balance in our own lives, and to talk about ways in which we can sup-port each other in our quest to ensure children enjoy their online world safely.
Breck Foundation look forward to Safer Internet Day 2019 and working together to create a Safer Internet for all.”

Marc Allera, CEO Consumer, BT:

“BT is proud to support Safer Internet Day 2019. We are committed to keeping families safe online, and Safer Internet Day provides the platform to inspire a global conversation about how we can con-tinue to do this. We will be hosting the UK Safer Internet Centre’s youth event at BT to start conversa-tions about how young people can connect, create and share safely in their digital world.
“As both a parent and CEO of three brands that believe in the power of technology to improve lives – BT, EE and Plusnet – I know how important it is for children to be safe online. We are investing in bet-ter parental control technologies, as well as educating our customers in how to use them. I hope the day will inspire parents and carers to have open and honest conversations about the importance of online safety and make the internet a better and safer place.”

Roy McComb, Deputy Director, CEOP:

“The National Crime Agency’s CEOP command is delighted to support the ongoing work of the UK Safer Internet Centre and Safer Internet Day. Children and young people’s use of technology is con-stantly evolving and Safer Internet Day provides a great opportunity to promote safe and positive use of the internet. We’re proud to support the day, helping professionals and parents/carers to make the internet a safer place, and continue to work towards protecting children online alongside the UK Safer Internet Centre and other key partners.”

John Carr, Children’s Charities Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS):

“Safer Internet Day is a unique opportunity for all of us – parents, grandparents, teachers and young people alike – to stop and think.”

Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award:

“With a growing online community the internet has transformed our connection to the world. Unfortunately, with this increased connectivity comes the good and the bad. At The Diana Award, we believe that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that children and young people continue to enjoy the benefits and richness the internet brings, this is why on days like today, we are delighted to support Safer Internet Day which brings together everyone from industry to government, law enforcement, parents, teachers and young people to work together to ensure our internet remains a safe place for everyone, but most importantly children and young people.”

Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety, Facebook:

“At Facebook, we are proud to support Safer Internet Day to help inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Safer Internet Day provides an opportunity to help spread important messages about the safe and responsible use of social media and other technologies popular with children. Our partnerships with Childnet International and the Diana Award help young people become ambassadors for digital safety, supporting their peers to connect with respect, and provide an important additional element to the online safety landscape in the UK.”

Claire Lilley, Child Safety Public Policy Manager, Google EMEA:

“We believe in technology’s ability to bring young people together, educate about different points of view, and foster creativity. But it’s also important that young people use technology as a force for good and to have a positive impact online. We continue to work 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.”

Emma Collins, EMEA Public Policy Manager, Instagram:

“Instagram is proud to support Safer Internet Day’s mission of working “Together for a Better Internet”. Keeping Instagram a positive, safe and supportive place for self-expression is hugely important to us, that’s why we’re sharing information about all the tools people have available to them to stay safe on Instagram. You can find them at our Info Centre here.”

Carolyn Bunting, Chief Executive, Internet Matters:

“As the online world continues to evolve, it’s essential that industry comes together to help make it a positive environment for children. Safer Internet Day has the power to bring together organisations like ours, who through collaboration, can help highlight the fantastic opportunities the online world can offer children, when navigated both safely and smartly. We aim to help parents understand the im-portance of playing an active role in their children’s digital lives and equip them with the necessary tools to help keep their children safe online.”

Dieter Carstensen, Head of Digital Child Safety, The LEGO Group:

The LEGO Group is a proud supporter of the Safer Internet Day 2019, and this year’s theme “Together for a Better Internet” resonates perfectly with how we develop our digital experiences that are used by millions of children worldwide. We believe our responsibility of developing safe-by-design experiences must be accompanied by tools and guidance that provides children with agency to create
their favourite, positive and fun play experiences online. We are therefore launching additional in-app safety measures that are child friendly and contextually relevant, and we hope this will positively contribute towards a better Internet together with the children and their parents.”

Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft:

“As people across the globe live richer, more connected lives, there has never been a more crucial time for all of us to help shape a safer, more civil digital world. On Safer Internet Day people can stop and reflect as to what they experience and how they act online. Microsoft first supported Safer Internet Day 16 years ago, when many of the world’s most popular platforms had yet to enter our lives. To mark SID this year, Microsoft is releasing its latest Digital Civility Index, and we challenge everyone around the world to promote digital civility by: living the Golden Rule, respecting differences, pausing before replying, and standing up for oneself and others. Together we make the internet a safer, more respectful and more empathetic place. Learn more at:”

Justine Roberts, Chief Executive, Mumsnet:

“Mumsnet users talk a lot about how to keep their children safe online, from pre-schoolers watching their favourite programmes to teenagers exploring the wilder shores of the web. Consent – how to ask for it, how to give it, and how to know you have it – is an important principle for so many activities, and has the potential to open up thoughtful conversations with people of all ages, so it’s good ne

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