Several helplines spoke about the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and contacts wanting to speak about the impact that this continues to have on their daily lives and those of their family and friends.
Data collected over time shows a steady increase from the start of 2019 to the present day – an increase of almost forty per cent. The group which makes most use of helpline services is teenagers with 60 per cent of contacts from those in the 12-18 age group. Contacts from parents have spiked at various times since the onset of COVID but also show an increase overall, with 20 per cent of contacts from this stakeholder group in the latest reporting period. Calls from teachers and social workers reduced slightly during this quarter with helplines suggesting that as schools and other services start to reopen, these professionals are concentrating on their face-to-face activities with children and young people. The calls from parents have been increasingly about mental health concerns and screentime; this may well be reflected in the contacts from other professionals later in the year if and when these issues manifest themselves in schools and other settings.
Historically, helplines receive more contacts from females, accounting for 62 per cent of contacts during this reporting period. Only one helpline had more contacts from males than females.
COVID has had an impact on the way that people contact helplines with a sharp decline in those using phones (which is usually the most common means of getting in touch). The current data shows that the method of contacting helplines has returned to the situation that was being seen before COVID-19 which possibly reflects the lifting of lockdowns and the gradual opening up of society. Chat, online forms and email continue to be important channels to reach out to helplines, accounting for over forty per cent of all contacts. 51 per cent of contacts were made by phone.
Helplines record contacts against 16 different categories and, as usual, the main reason for contacting a helpline is cyberbullying with almost 17 per cent of contacts relating to this. It was noted that, in some countries, there have been campaigns targeted at children and young people to encourage them to speak out about sexual harassment and sexual abuse. In countries where this has happened, there has been a corresponding increase in reports about these issues. Despite this, there has been a fall of one percentage point during the current quarter in contacts relating to sextortion and the actual number of reports has also fallen. The data will need to be monitored closely in subsequent reporting periods, especially as many helplines report that sextortion is still a significant issue.
|Reasons for contacting Insafe helplines||Percentage of contacts|
|Advertising/commercialism||0.91 per cent|
|Hate speech||1.08 per cent|
|Grooming||1.93 per cent|
|Sexual harassment||2.97 per cent|
|Gaming||4.02 per cent|
|Sextortion||4.19 per cent|
|Excessive use||4.84 per cent|
|Technical settings||5.68 per cent|
|Sexting||5.91 per cent|
|e-Crime||5.97 per cent|
|Online reputation||6.05 per cent|
|Data privacy||7.29 per cent|
|Media literacy/education||9.40 per cent|
|Potentially harmful content||10.07 per cent|
|Love/relationships/sexuality (online)||12.19 per cent|
|Cyberbullying||17.49 per cent|
Helpline statistics can be accessed in detail at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/helpline-statistics where country comparisons can also be made.