The Association of Children and Adolescent Mental Health met on Friday 14th of March in the heart of London to present and engage with issues regarding risks, harm and addiction of young people and children and the internet.

Giving the Keynote speech was LSE’s own Professor Sonia Livingstone who shared new data illustrating a rise in hateful messages but a decrease in those with sexual content. Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children’s Commissioner, Professor Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent University and Big White Wall’s CEO & FOUNDER, Jenny Hyatt, accompanied her. According to the data she presented an increasing number of children in the UK aged 11-16 are reporting seeing hateful or racist messages online, including those that attack individuals or groups.

Twenty three per cent of all 11-16 year olds who use the internet say they have come across such messages, a sharp rise from the 13% who said this when interviewed by EU Kids Online in 2010.

These latest survey findings also reveal an increase in the percentage who themselves received nasty or bullying messages online (from 8% of 9-16 year olds in 2010 to 12% in 2013) and in those who have seen pro-anorexic sites (from 8% of 11-16 year olds in 2010 to 14% in 2013).

Other findings including the following:

• More encouragingly, given the public policy efforts to address ‘sexting’ (the receipt of sexual messages online), there is a decrease in the proportion who report receiving these (from 12% to 5% of 11-16 year olds).

• There is no change over this period in the percentages who say they have encountered sexual or pornographic images online, or in the percentages who have gone to a meeting offline with someone they first met online.

• Importantly, not all risks online upset children. In 2010, 13% of 9-16 year olds said they had been bothered or upset by something online in the previous year. In 2013, 15% said this – there is no substantial difference in these figures.

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