Latest helpline trends: Quarter 3, 2021

The Insafe network of helplines collects data about the types of calls received and this is analysed every three months to look at trends, and new and emerging issues. The most recent helpline data covers the period from July to September 2021. This reporting period saw over 15,000 contacts made to the helpline network and continued the overall upward trend in numbers of people reaching out to helplines.

Date 2021-12-14 Author BIK Team Section helplines Topic media literacy/education Audience media specialist, organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers
Two children looking at laptop on a sofa

The main users of the Insafe helplines continue to be teens (aged 12 to 18), with this group accounting for 59 per cent of all contacts during this reporting period. It is also interesting to note that 24 per cent of contacts were made by parents which is higher than it has ever been and perhaps is a reflection of the growing concerns that parents have about what their children are doing when they go online. A recent spate of worrying headlines, coupled with an acknowledgement that most people have been spending increasing amounts of time online as a result of the ongoing pandemic, will no doubt have contributed to their concerns. It is, however, reassuring that parents are recognising the services that helplines are able to offer and making use of these.

This particular reporting period covers the summer holiday period and so it is understandable that there are fewer calls from teachers during this quarter.

62 per cent of contacts were from those identifying as female; a figure which remains consistent over recent reporting periods. Helplines work hard to promote their services to all, but some of the stigma associated with boys and young men acknowledging that they might need help and support, and the perception from some that asking for help is a sign of weakness, means that this is an ongoing challenge.

Helplines record contacts against 16 different categories and, as usual, the main reason for contacting a helpline is cyberbullying with over 17 per cent of contacts relating to this. Sextortion was referenced by several helplines and this category accounts for five per cent of all contacts. Sexting, sextortion and sexual harassment account for 16 per cent of all contacts when taken collectively and perhaps reflects a growing global concern about online sexual harassment and abuse, particularly of women and girls.

Reasons for contacting helplines Jul-Sep 2021

Figure 1: Reasons for contacting helplines July – September 2021 (© Better Internet for Kids)

Reasons for contacting Insafe helplinesPercentage of contacts
Advertising/commercialism1.06 per cent
Hate speech1.15 per cent
Grooming2.86 per cent
Excessive use3.19 per cent
Sexual harassment4.87 per cent
Technical settings4.37 per cent
Sextortion5.02 per cent
Online reputation4.78 per cent
Gaming4.80 per cent
e-Crime6.90 per cent
Sexting5.69 per cent
Data privacy8.07 per cent
Media literacy/education7.10 per cent
Potentially harmful content12.47 per cent
Love/relationships/sexuality (online)10.38 per cent
Cyberbullying17.30 per cent


Helpline statistics can be accessed in detail at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/helpline-statistics where country comparisons can also be made.

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