Revealed: Number Of Children Experiencing Online Hate Speech Is Growing But Are Parents Talking About It?

  • New tool to help children handle online hate launched by Internet Matters and Samsung Electronics UK
  • Latest module of the ‘The Online Together Project’ aims to promote a more positive and inclusive culture online, giving families practical advice
  • Research reveals 1 in 5 children have come across hate speech online as it becomes one of the top 5 things children report they experience on the internet
  • Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of mums and dads are not having a conversation with their children following an experience of online hate

 

Internet Matters joins forces with Samsung Electronics UK today to help children and parents tackle online hate, as research suggests rising numbers of kids are experiencing racism, homophobia and sexism on the internet.

A new module of the successful joint initiative ‘The Online Together Project’ has been designed to educate on issues around online hate, giving families practical advice.

The interactive tool looks to encourage conversations between parents and children, made up of 10 questions. Offering age specific sections, the option to play with someone else or on your own, each question offers users key information on the topic and advice for parents/carers and conversation prompts.

At the end of the questions, there are downloadable guides with further information and advice to help tackle online hate, plus a completion certificate.

The Internet Matters research conducted in November 2022, of 1,600 UK parents and 1,000 children aged 9-16, also reveals how 12% of parents reported their children experienced hate speech online – the highest level of the last two years.

However, it is clear that parents are under-reporting their children’s exposure to online hate. Nearly one in five (19%) children aged 9-16 say they’ve come across hate speech online. This compares to only 12% of parents saying this had happened to their child.

Coming across hate speech is listed as one of the top five things children say they experience online, compared to parents who believe it is the 7th most common thing.

More than six in 10 (62%) parents were concerned about their child being exposed to hate speech – a jump of 11% compared with pre-pandemic concerns (56% in Jan 2020).

Online hate is the second topic covered by The Online Together Project, which launched last year with a module on breaking down gender stereotypes – with eight out of 10 (81%) parents praising its ability to help children develop skills to create a more positive and inclusive culture online.

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, said: “Hate speech online is a growing issue for children and young people, especially with the presence of a number of high profile influencers on social media sharing extreme and hateful views.

“Worryingly, there is clearly a discrepancy between how much hate speech children are experiencing, versus how much their parents think or know they are experiencing.

“That’s why The Online Together Project with Samsung is so important, and we hope can play a big role in encouraging discussions about online hate and give families the tools they need to deal with it, developing critical thinking skills and encouraging a positive and inclusive culture online.”

Anna Whitehouse, best known as Mother Pukka, a journalist, Heart radio presenter and mother turned Flexible Working Campaigner, witnessed first-hand the lasting effects that online hate can have when she spoke up on her platform.

Anna Whitehouse said: “Enough. It’s a pixelated Wild West online. I’ve had strangers on the internet send me hateful comments saying everything you can’t imagine – and many things you can’t. And I didn’t feel safe and haven’t known how to deal with it. But I want to know for my kids, and the new module on online hate of The Online Together Project can help them understand the new world they’re navigating. Because 19% of kids aged 9 to 16 have seen hate speech online, and two-thirds of parents aren’t discussing it with them, the first step is education. For us and for them. It’s so important.”

Karl Hopwood, online safety expert said: “Anna’s experience is just one of many cases that shows the long-lasting effects of online hate and the helplessness that is felt when you feel unequipped to deal with it. It’s more important than ever to ensure we are making sure children and parents have access to the resources they need to understand why online hate happens, but also how to ensure it has minimal effects and that children are experiencing a positive experience online, not a negative one.”

Stop Hate added: “Anyone can be affected by online hate. You don’t have to be a member of the group to which the hostility is targeted. Online hate should never be tolerated. Everyone has the right to be themselves and especially online. The launch of this tool is crucial in ensuring that children have access to the tools they need and parents feel they are supported in understanding online hate and helping to prevent it.”

Brian Ford, Vice President at Samsung Electronics UK summarised: “Samsung is committed to supporting and educating young people and with people spending more time online, it’s crucial to provide tools to guide young people to safely surf the internet – and even more important to teach them what is appropriate online. The Online Together Project does exactly this.”

 

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