Safer Internet Day (SID) 2014 was celebrated on February 11, with the theme ‘Let’s create a better internet together’. This annual event has spread, so that in addition to being widely celebrated across Europe, more than 100 countries around the world now mark the day. Many countries undertake campaigns and initiatives throughout the month, using Safer Internet Day as the focus. Throughout February and beyond, GRID will be updated regularly with information about new activities and initiatives, and some of these will be showcased on the blog.
In the Netherlands, SID 2014 saw the release of new research from the Dutch Safer Internet Centre. The research measured the responses of just over 600 children aged between 12 – 16 who were users of social media. Children were asked how long they spent online, and how they accessed the Internet. Most children accessed the Internet on a PC (46%) but smartphone access was the next most popular method with 37% of children accessing the Internet most often via their phones.
The research found that 43% of children had either experienced something unpleasant online, or knew someone who had. The majority (78%) of these experiences took place on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter: the sites that children reported visiting most often. The most commonly reported negative experience was bullying, with unspecified unpleasant experiences the second most common response.
Children who had reported having had unpleasant online experiences were asked whether they had ever experienced any of four categories of issue. These were:
- Bullying: 47%
- Harassment: 23%
- Abuse: 15%
- Sex: 11%
- None of the above: 30%
Children who reported experiencing bullying online were then asked the nature of the bullying they encountered. The most commonly experienced form of bullying was unpleasant gossip or arguments, with 68% of children reporting that they had encountered it. The next most common response was bullying via the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as other online forms of communication such as Skype.
The most commonly experienced forms of online harassment reported by children was online approaches from strangers, with 84% of children who had encountered harassment online reporting that they had experienced it, and girls more likely than boys to have encountered it. The second most commonly-reported unpleasant experience was stalking, with 17% of the respondents to the question reporting that they had experienced it.
The most commonly experienced form of online abuse was hacking, with virtual theft (which was ruled unlawful by the Dutch Supreme Court in 2012) the second most commonly-encountered problem of that type. (Further information on the details of the test case which determined this can be found in the country’s Legislation section on GRID.
The research was accompanied by the announcement that the Dutch Safer Internet Centre had been given ‘trusted flagger’ status. This means that the reporting tool, Meldknop.nl, has been given access to escalation procedures and priority contact access to the major social networking sites, to ensure that reported content is removed as quickly as possible. Facebook, Google and YouTube are all among the social networks who have agreed to work with such reporting systems to see illegal or distressing content taken offline.
The report found that fewer than 20% of children ever reported content to the websites on which the problem occurred. A ‘one click’ reporting button was launched for common web browsers for SID 2012, and can be downloaded here. However, 45% of children said that they had not reported the thing that had upset them online, because they didn’t think it was serious enough to do so. Only 1% of the children surveyed had reported something to a helpline or law enforcement agencies.
Additional research into the usage habits of children and young people in the Netherlands, going back several years, can be found on GRID, in the country’s Research section. More detailed information on the SID 2014 activities which took place in the Netherlands can be found on the DigiBewurst website, which covers a range of online safety topics.