Professor Sonia Livingstone is contributing to the government’s new Internet Safety Strategy aimed at making Britain the safest country in the world for children and young people to be online.
The strategy is part of the new cross-Government drive, and is expected to produce a green paper in the summer.
A report has been commissioned to provide up to date evidence of how young people are using the internet, the dangers they face, and the gaps that exist in keeping them safe. Professor Livingstone, professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications, is leading this work together with Professor Julia Davidson of the University of Middlesex, and Dr Jo Bryce of the University of Central Lancs, on behalf of the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Evidence Group.
Government ministers will also hold a series of round tables in the coming weeks with social media companies, technology firms, young people, charities and mental health experts to examine online risks and how to tackle them.
The work is expected to centre on four main priorities: how to help young people help themselves; helping parents face up the dangers and discuss them with children; industry’s responsibilities to society; and how technology can help provide solutions.
The focus will be on preventing children and young people from harm online and making the internet a safer place.
Professor Livingstone said: “It’s really important that the UK’s new Internet Safety Strategy is grounded in solid evidence about children’s online risks and safety.
“We are now reviewing all the latest studies we can find, to counter some of the panicky headlines, put the risks into perspective, and guide the optimal mix of actions from government, industry, schools and parents.”
A recent poll found more parents were concerned about sexting than about their children drinking or smoking. The YouGov survey for the PSHE association showed 78% were either fairly or very concerned about sexting, compared to 69% who concerned about alcohol misuse and 67% who were concerned about smoking.
A study last year for the NSPCC and Children’s Commissioner found 13% of 11 to 16 year-olds reported that they had taken topless pictures of themselves and 3% had taken fully naked pictures of themselves. More than one in 10 young people say they have been the victim of cyber bullying, and self-harm among children is on the rise amid evidence of a link between internet use and an increased risk of self-harm.