Safer Internet Day: How Challenging Is It To Protect Youth From Misleading Content

New research has revealed that almost half of young people in the U.K. view fake and misleading information online every day; while 51% admitted that are seeing more of such content now than before 2020

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Teresa Marvulli
Teresa Marvulli
Italian journalist based in the UK. I trained at City, University of London and I write about the environment, Italian politics and current affairs with a focus on the EU.

UNITED KINGDOM. London: This year, Safer Internet Day 2019 is being celebrated on Feb. 9. It is an initiative launched in the U.K. to raise awareness about correct internet practices and to help promote a safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology.

The UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) on Tuesday released new research revealing that almost half (48%) of young people in the U.K. are seeing misleading content every day, with more than one in 10 seeing it more than six times a day.

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A really worrying signal, especially as 51% of the children aged between 8 to 17 interviewed said, they are seeing more misleading content now than before 2020

The official Twitter account of Safer Internet Day said, “Happy #SaferInternetDay! Together, we have the power to promote the positive changes we want to see in the digital environment and ultimately create a better internet for everyone.”

Young people are spending more time online

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Will Gardner OBE, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre said in a statement: “This is the most important Safer internet Day ever. We are in lockdown and being online continues to be a lifeline for most children during the pandemic, in terms of their education and social lives, and also as a form of support.”

According to the research, 77% of the youth said that being online is a more important part of their life than ever before. Due to the closure of schools and not being able to meet family and friends, 83% of parents and caretakers agreed that their children had spent more time online in 2020 than any other year.

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Thus, today is more important than ever to protect the future of the world, the kids, from the dangers hidden behind the screens. The research highlighted that 63% of the children interviewed said they would likely fall for things like gaming scams, sneaky/hidden sponsored ads, filtered/edited imagery on social media, and stories from unofficial sources.

Furthermore, over 1 in 6 of the kids interviewed said they had received friend requests from people they don’t know.

Misleading content and emotional well-being

UKSIC has highlighted that misleading content presents challenges for young people’s emotional well-being. It often leaves them feeling annoyed, upset, sad, angry, attacked, or scared.

However, 73% of the children interviewed admitted that being online had helped them through the pandemic and lockdowns, supporting them emotionally.

According to the research, 61% of young people are keen to learn more about how to spot misleading content online.

In a statement Vicky Ford, U.K. Minister of Children and Families said, “As children are living in an increasingly digital world, it is vitally important that they are able to separate fact from fiction and challenge or question any misinformation they may come across.”

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