New research for Safer Internet Day 2024

UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) shares data details excitement and fears of young people about fast-changing world of AI and tech. 

Just 32% of children and 42% of adults are aware of the new Online Safety Act which came into effect last October, or the duties it imposes on social media companies to keep uses safe. That’s according to detailed new research carried out by Censuswide with responses from more than 4,000 parents, carers and young people. 

woman in black long sleeve shirt using macbook air

Photo by Annie Spratt

The research provides valuable insights into our evolving relationship with tech. For many, tech is a cause of concern – some 74% of parents and carers, and 45% of children, have concerns about the safety of developments in AI, VR and new social media apps. While 70% of children are excited about the potential of generative AI (genAI), and 33% have used it in some form, more than half of the latter (53%) know someone in their peer group who has used it some negative way. 

Respondents largely agreed (67%) that the measures in the Online Safety Act are needed, and that social media companies should be firmly regulated to ensure young people are kept safe online. 

What’s more, 80% of children and young people felt they should be listened to more often about changes in tech and how it can be kept safe. Many clearly feel the online world can be a force for good: some 64% of the 15 year-olds who responded had changed their profile picture or added a filter in the past year to support a cause or campaign. 

Will Gardener OBE, Director of UKSIC, says: ‘Our research shows the excitement many young people feel over the changing online landscape and emerging technologies. However it also shows the concerns young people have around safety and the need they see for more support; views shared by their parents and carers.  

‘On Safer Internet Day we see thousands of organisations across the UK working to make a difference, using this moment as an opportunity to take practical steps and to talk about keeping safe online and making vital conversations happen at home, at school and beyond. Young people are living their lives engaging with rapidly evolving online technology, and Safer Internet Day is the perfect opportunity to start listening to what they have to say and learning from their experiences and ideas.’ 

The UK Safer Internet Centre offers guidance, resources, training and events that aim to help keep children and young people safe online. 

In related news:

Fake news and cyberflashing among online abuses outlawed  

Self-harm and suicide one click away on search engines

AI Safety Institute (AISI) now recruiting 


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