The primary users of the Insafe helplines continue to be teens (aged 12 to 18), with this group accounting for over 50 per cent of all contacts during this reporting period. The numbers of younger users (aged 5 to 11) have been steadily increasing, as have the numbers of parents who make contact. Around one-quarter of contacts came from parents, reflecting the concerns that many parents have around the content that their children can be exposed to when they are online.
Forty-two per cent of contacts were from those identifying as male – this is an increase of four percentage points on the previous quarter. Helplines work hard to reach out to all stakeholder groups, but boys and young men repeatedly talk about the barriers they feel exist to prevent them from reporting.
Helplines record contacts against 16 different categories and, as usual, the main reason for contacting a helpline is cyberbullying, with over 15 per cent of contacts relating to this. Additionally, helplines are receiving lots of calls about sexting, sextortion and sexual harassment – between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 in 2021, there was a significant increase in the number of calls received about sexting (98 per cent) and sextortion (49 per cent). There has been a lot of heightened awareness about these issues recently, and the helplines have spent time discussing the challenges that young people are facing and the barriers they face when reporting.
It is also important to note that contacts which were categorised as “potentially harmful content” rose by 29 per cent between 2020 and 2021. This category is defined as [content] Including terrorism, online prostitution, drugs, eating disorders, self-harm etc. Including calls related to sites promoting suicide and explaining ways to commit suicide. Young people have spent a lot more time online as a result of the pandemic and they appear to be encountering more problematic content as a result.
Collaboration and cooperation with industry and, in particular, with social media providers remains crucial, and the helpline network has strong and valued relationships with key players including Facebook, Instagram, Google/YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat, as well as several others. These relationships enable the fast removal of inappropriate content where regular reporting routes have not been as effective as they should have been.
|Reasons for contacting Insafe helplines||Percentage of contacts|
|Advertising/commercialism||1.36 per cent|
|Hate speech||2.07 per cent|
|Grooming||2.74 per cent|
|Excessive use||2.35 per cent|
|Sexual harassment||3.39 per cent|
|Technical settings||3.39 per cent|
|Gaming||4.66 per cent|
|Sextortion||5.71 per cent|
|Sexting||5.76 per cent|
|Data privacy||6.57 per cent|
|Online reputation||7.24 per cent|
|e-Crime||7.95 per cent|
|Media literacy/education||8.08 per cent|
|Potentially harmful content||11.37 per cent|
|Love/relationships/sexuality (online)||12 per cent|
|Cyberbullying||15.35 per cent|