Latest helpline trends: Quarter 2, 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. Since April 2023, helplines have been using an updated set of categories to log contacts against. The new categories were agreed upon following extensive consultation and discussion with the helpline network. The work was led by a helpline working group who spent considerable time determining the changes that needed to be made. 

Date 2023-09-28 Author BIK Team Section awareness, helplines Topic cyberbullying, gaming, media literacy/education, potentially harmful content, technical settings Audience media specialist, organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers
A group of four children on a bench looking at a tablet

The most recent helpline data covers the period from April to June 2023. There were almost 21,000 contacts made to the network – this is an increase on the previous quarter and represents the highest number of contacts that the network has ever received in a single three-month period. There continues to be an overall upward trend in numbers using the helplines over the last three to four years. 

As usual, teens (aged 12-18) are the largest group who are using helpline services; 59 per cent of contacts were from them during this period. This represents an increase of seven percentage points compared to the previous quarter. Parents and teachers make up around 34 per cent of contacts which demonstrates the concern that those caring for children and young people have around these online issues.  

During this reporting period there was a drop of six percentage points in contacts being made by phone. Despite this, phone remains the most popular method of reaching out to a helpline with 44 per cent of contacts being made this way. There was an increase of six percentage points in contacts made by chat since the previous quarter. Overall there is a slight decline in contacts being made by phone over time which reflects the ongoing developments in chat and other online means of communication. 

Almost 13.5 per cent of contacts were about cyberbullying and this category continues to be the most common reason for contacting an Insafe helpline. As mentioned above, there are several new categories being used to log helpline reports, with suicide, self-harm, pornography, fake news and radicalisation/terrorism all being added and accounting for a total of 13.5 per cent of all contacts. This clearly demonstrates the importance of collecting data around these issues.   

Sextortion is now referred to as the online sexual coercion and extortion of children and accounted for over seven per cent of contacts.

There has been a reduction in contacts which are logged as love, relationships, sexuality (online) from 11 per cent to eight per cent. Part of the reasoning for adding the new category of pornography was to better capture the contacts relating specifically to this. Three per cent of contacts were categorised under this heading which, again, suggests that the new categories are providing more granularity in terms of the types of challenges that young people face online.

Graph to show the reasons for contacting helplines April-June 2023

Reason for contacting helplinePercentage of contacts
Radicalisation/terrorism0.2 per cent
Fake news0.7 per cent
Hate speech0.9 per cent
Grooming1.9 per cent
Advertising/commercialism1.9 per cent
Pornography2.5 per cent
Self-harm3.7 per cent
Gaming3.8 per cent
Technical settings 3.9 per cent
NCSII4.4 per cent
Excessive use4.6 per cent
Online reputation5.5 per cent
Suicide5.9 per cent
Potentially harmful content6.2 per cent
OSCEC (sextortion)7.2 per cent
Data privacy 7.6 per cent
Love, relationships, sexuality (online)8 per cent
Media literacy/education8.8 per cent
e-crime8.9 per cent
Cyberbullying13.4 per cent


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

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