Latest helpline trends: Quarter 4, 2018

The Insafe network of helplines collects data about the types of calls that they receive and this is analysed every three months to look at trends and new and emerging issues.

The most recent data collection covered the period from October to December 2018 inclusive and saw 10,867 contacts (an increase on the previous reporting period) which all related to online issues. 54 per cent of calls came from teenagers - a significant reduction (11 percentage points) from the previous reporting period, and 19 per cent from the 5-11 year old age group – this being an increase of six percentage points. It is always difficult to determine why there could be such a difference from one reporting period to another, but helplines have reported for some time now that online issues are affecting younger and younger children, partly because they have access to devices and connectivity at an ever-earlier age.

There is a rise of three percentage points in the numbers of parents and social workers making contact with helplines which reflects anecdotal feedback from Safer Internet Centres (SICs) about the general rise in concerns about the challenges that young people face online. Increased media coverage in the last few months may have also contributed to this increase.

Helplines Q4, 2018 results

  • As usual, the most common reason for contacting the helplines is cyberbullying which accounted for over 16 per cent of all calls.
  • Online challenges are an ongoing concern and Momo (which has been mentioned in previous reports) is still something that helplines are dealing with. It is difficult to determine the best way to address these challenges without causing alarm or inadvertently encouraging children and young people to check them out.
  • Blackmail, sextortion and coercion have been highlighted by several helplines with young people needing support and guidance on how to deal with this type of problem.
  • The app TikTok appears to be growing in popularity – many young people are familiar with the app Musical.ly which was taken over by TikTok in 2018.
  • Gaming and particularly Fortnite (once again) were highlighted by some helplines who have noticed an increase in calls concerning various issues including the amount of time spent online, arguments between parents and children, and addictive behaviours.
  • More helplines are using social media as a method of reaching out to their target audience(s). The German helpline launched an Instagram account in the summer of 2018 and reports that this is developing well. The account has now been verified and the page is a good way to reach some of the younger target groups.

Find out more about the work of the Insafe network of helplines, including national contact details, at helplines.betterinternetforkids.eu, where country comparisons can also be made.


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