City University of London's 'Research Spotlight' series feature
Video here: (Full transcript below)
So my research was looking at young people’s perceptions of what is - or isn’t - illegal to post on social media. And the way that I did this research is: I went into schools, I spoke to 184 young people aged between 11 and 18, and I basically gave them different examples of online posts and asked them to tell me how “risky” they thought it was.
So mostly whether they thought it was a criminal risk (something they could get arrested for, or police would get involved with), if they thought it was a civil risk (so something they could get sued for), if they thought it was a reputation or an ethics problem, or if they thought there was no risk at all.
The main thing that stood out for me was that young people are not very clear on what is or isn’t illegal to post online.
The example that had the most disagreement was actually an example that was meant to represent sharing of an indecent video of a young girl called ‘Alice’, and that’s particularly worrying bearing in mind there’s so much education already being done with young people about the legality of sharing sexual or naked images of under 18s.
I think we definitely need to make sure that law and legal education is something that is part of digital citizenship in the future. There are quite a lot of young people who don’t think there are any laws online or that the police won’t do anything about social media content - and that’s just not true.
So I think we need to start educating people about the law. But also making sure that we are having conversations with young people about their perceptions of what is or isn’t acceptable online, in terms of free speech as well.
They do have a lot of opinions on it, and they ought to be able to contribute to the debate because they’re big consumers, but also big producers of online content nowadays
Thanks to City University of London: Research Spotlight.