BAME and LGBTQI+ youth are most at risk of online harm

New research from the University of Surrey shows BAME and LGBTQI+ youth are most at risk of harm online.

Online harm for minority groups

Young people from minority groups – such as Black, Asian, Minority Ethnicand LGBTQI+ youth – are more likely to be exposed to and experience harm online than their white, straight and cis counterparts, according to a new study from the University of Surrey.

While the study found that most young people are not regularly or directly harmed online, a “significant” percentage of young people are exposed to harmful material or content when they are logged in.

dr Emily Setty, co-author of the study and Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, said:

“Our research makes it clear that we need to work with young people – particularly those from minorities – to identify and develop solutions that are effective in preventing online harm.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to harm reduction cannot hope to tackle the discrimination that seems entrenched in young people’s online experiences. While Young people were familiar with technical solutions to combat these risks, like account suspension and reporting, our research has shown that digital safety education is needed to help them develop a critical understanding of these issues.”

Sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic content

According to the study, a significant number of young people have encountered or experienced online harm and exposure to sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic content. In addition, the study showed that young women are at increased risk of being targeted unwanted sexual content and often experience negative effects—such as dissatisfaction with their bodies—associated with this behavior.

As part of a series of focus groups, participants aged 12 to 16 were shown an ad with words related to risks and harms online and asked for their reactions. They discussed how various issues they experienced played out online, what actions they took to deal with them, and their views on digital safety education. In addition, they discussed the benefits of being online and how they weighed the risks and opportunities.

Amid the ongoing debate about age-restricting social media channels and how Big tech companies are making them saferThe Surrey research team also found a high proportion of young people using social media appsChildren are more at risk than young people who spend their time in activities such as gaming or streaming.

Emma Robertson, co-founder of online safety organization Digital Awareness UK said:

“This research is reflected in the conversations our organization is having with young people about issues such as hate speech online, which they are experiencing at an alarming rate. A lot of awareness and progress have come as a result of major social movements that have taken place online, such as racism in football or sexual harassment, as seen on Everyone’s Invited.

“However, at a time when discussions about issues such as race, identity and sexuality are being debated and given the spotlight online, we need to remember that young people are also experiencing unprecedented levels of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia online. This only underscores the urgent need for educators, parents and carers to be given the support they need to help young people meet these challenges, and for policymakers and tech companies to help make online spaces as inclusive and safe as possible possible.” BAME and LGBTQI+ youth are most at risk of online harm

Fry Electronics Team

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