Safer Internet Day 2019 Welsh Press Release
Permission to share?
Young people in Wales struggle to resolve “consent confusion” online
- New research reveals the positives and challenges of young people in Wales 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 in Wales struggle to navigate ‘the rules’
- Figures show a mismatch between Welsh youth’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 2,000 organisations coming together to support the day
To mark Safer Internet Day 2019 young people in Wales, and across the UK, are joining government, celebrities, industry figures, schools, businesses and police services to inspire people to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Schools across Wales are delivering activities today around this year’s theme of “Our Internet, Our Choice: Understanding Consent in a Digital World,” these schools include Ysgol Bryn Coch, Ysgol Eirias, Ysgol Gatholig Santes Fair and Ysgol y Felin.
Consent in a Digital World
New research commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre reveals how sharing and viewing content is integral to the lives of young people in Wales, and the positives and challenges that come with this.
In an increasingly digitised world, with young people in Wales sharing a variety of content every day, 71% 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, 73% of young people say being online helps them understand what’s happening in the world and 54% only know about certain issues or news because of the internet.
Crucially, young people in Wales are using the internet as a safe space to understand and navigate topics they’re nervous to ask about, with 63% saying it’s easier to learn about them online. Encouragingly, the internet has helped half (50%) through a difficult time.
With technology enabling us to connect and learn faster than ever, 42% of young people in Wales say that being online makes them feel like their voices and actions matter. Maximising on the collective power of the internet, 39% 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 in Wales connect online means they must also navigate the complexities of asking for and giving permission before sharing. Young people in Wales have a strong sense of right and wrong online, with an overwhelming 83% believing everyone has a responsibility to respect others. However, in practice half (50%) admit their peers don’t always think before they post. The research also found that 26% of young people are sharing screenshots of other peoples’ photos, comments or messages at least weekly.
This exposes young people in Wales to a confusing landscape when it comes to online consent, and a lack of consensus on how to navigate this. Half of young people in Wales (50%) think their friends should ask for permission before tagging them or sharing a photo or video of them, while 30% think their parents should ask. Furthermore, 1 in 5 are likely to read a friend’s messages without their permission.
Young people in Wales are also not asking permission before posting, despite 72% knowing when and how to ask. Consequently, in the last year 43% of young people 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 (45%), with a lack of clarity clearly having a real impact on their lives.
Even when permission is sought, young people in Wales are facing further pressures. Despite feeling confident telling their friends (78%) and parents (85%) not to share something about them online, in practice it can be difficult to say no. In the last year, 24% 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 in Wales would always remove something they’d posted about a friend if asked to, 33% would not. Encouragingly, young people in Wales do rally against injustices they see online and 79% would report something that had been shared about them without permission. 70% 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. This 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 Minister Kirsty Williams said:
I’m proud that the Welsh Government is able to support Safer Internet Day. As a government we recognise the importance of initiatives such as Safer Internet Day has in inspiring a national conversation around online safety and how we can use technology safely and respectfully.
This year’s theme of ‘Together for a better internet’ really resonates with the great deal of work we have been doing in Wales to help keep learners safe online, demonstrating our commitment to online safety. 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 commissioned SID preparation pack, to ensure that our children and young people know how to stay safe online in today’s evolving digital world.”
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.
The full research report can be read here: www.saferinternet.org.uk/our-internet
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: www.saferinternetday.org.uk