Latest helpline trends: Quarter 4, 2023

The Insafe network of helplines collects data about the types of calls received and this is analysed every three months in order to look at possible trends and emerging issues. 

Date 2024-03-27 Author BIK Team Section helplines Topic media literacy/education Audience organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers
Analyzing data

The most recent helpline data covers the period from October to December 2023. There were just under 28,000 contacts made to the network which is a significant increase on the previous reporting period. This is largely due to an increase in figures from the Irish helpline which is using a new case management system meaning that it is possible to identify all contacts where the internet and technology played a part. This clearly continues the overall upward trend in the number of contacts that are made to Insafe helplines.

64 per cent of contacts come from teens (12-18-year-olds), with 16 per cent from younger children (5-11-year-olds). This reflects the increasing numbers of very young children who have access to the internet from a wide range of devices. The overall percentage of contacts from parents has reduced during this reporting period, but the actual number of contacts has increased by just under 17 percentage points.

For the first time since helplines started to collect data (over ten years ago), contact by phone was not the most common way to reach out – 41.6 per cent of contacts were made by phone and 42.4 were made using chat. Helplines note that many young people prefer to make contact using chat which is a more usual way for them to communicate. 

Since April 2023, helplines are asked (where possible) to capture data related to where a particular issue or problem occurred. Exactly half of the helplines are able to collect this data and the majority of issues (70 per cent) are taking place on social media platforms. Only six per cent of the problems are experienced in gaming environments, despite some of the negative media attention that these spaces receive. 

In terms of why helplines are contacted, cyberbullying remains the most common reason for getting in touch. There was a reduction in the percentage of contacts relating to cyberbullying during this reporting period (10 per cent) but an overall increase in the number of contacts about this.  

Contacts related to e-crime (defined as chain emails, phishing sites, identity theft, fraud, data theft, copyright infringement, hacking, piracy, etc. (including referrals to a hotline)) accounted for nine per cent of all contacts showing significant concerns around these issues. Some helplines also noted that artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a more significant role in some of the online scams that are being seen. Other key areas of concern are online reputation and love/relationships/sexuality (online), which each count for around nine per cent of all contacts. 

Insafe contacts are now grouped into four main areas: 

  1. Being online (incorporating advertising and commercialism, data privacy, fake news, media literacy/education, potentially harmful content, self-harm, suicide and technical settings. This area accounted for 38 per cent of all contacts. 
  2. Online violence (incorporating cyberbullying, e-crime, hate speech and radicalisation/terrorism) accounted for 20 per cent of all contacts. 
  3. Online activities/relations (incorporating excessive use, gaming, love, relationships, sexuality (online), online reputation, and pornography) which accounted for 29 per cent of all calls. This was a three per cent increase on the previous reporting period. 
  4. Online sexual abuse and violence (incorporating grooming, the non-consensual sharing of intimate images (NCSII), and the online sexual coercion and extortion of minors (which used to be referred to as sextortion). This area accounted for 13 per cent of all contacts made.

Radicalisation/terrorism0.15 per cent
Fake news0.36 per cent
Advertising/commercialism0.74per cent
Hate speech1.31 per cent
Grooming2.50 per cent
Gaming2.91 per cent


2.93 per cent
Technical settings3.15 per cent
Self-harm3.81 per cent
NCSII4.04 per cent
Excessive use4.76 per cent
Data privacy5.62 per cent
Online sexual coercion and extortion of children (sextortion)6.26 per cent
Suicide7.69 per cent
Media literacy/education8.14 per cent
Potentially harmful content8.37 per cent
e-crime8.63 per cent 
Love/relationships/sexuality (online)8.95 per cent
Online reputation9.52 per cent
Cyberbullying10.17 per cent


Find out more about country-based helpline services, operating as part of the national Safer Internet Centre, at Find news updates on helpline services at

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