Risky online behavior ‘almost normalised’ among young people, study says | Internet

Risky and criminal online behavior is likely to become normalized among a generation of young people around the world Europeaccording to EU-funded research which found that one in four 16-19 year olds has trolled someone online and one in three has engaged in digital piracy.

An EU-funded study has found evidence of widespread criminal, risky and delinquent behavior among the 16-19 age group in nine European countries, including the UK.

A survey of 8,000 young people found that one in four has tracked or trolled someone online, one in eight has engaged in online harassment, one in 10 has engaged in hate speech or hacking, one in five has engaged in sexting and one in three got involved in digital piracy. It also found that four out of 10 watched pornography.

Julia Davidson, co-author of the research and professor of criminology at the University of East London (UEL), said risky and criminal online behavior was becoming almost normal among a generation of young Europeans.

“Research indicates that a large proportion of young people in the EU are involved in some form of cybercrime, to such an extent that conducting low-level crime online and taking risks online has become almost normalised,” he said. stated.

Risky and criminal behavior among 16-19 year olds – graphic

Davidson, who led the research with her UEL colleague Prof. 65% female.

The survey asked young people about 20 types of online behavior, including viewing pornography, posting revenge porn, creating self-generated sexual images and posting hate speech.

According to the survey results, just under half of the participants engaged in behavior that could be considered criminal in most jurisdictions, such as hacking, non-consensual sharing of intimate images or “money muling” – in which someone receives money from a third party and passes it on, in a practice linked to the proceeds of cybercrime.

The survey, conducted by a research agency with previously used sample groups, found that half of 16- to 19-year-olds spend four to seven hours a day online, with nearly four in ten spending more than eight hours a day online, mostly on phones. He found that the group’s top five platforms were YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Snapchat.

The nine countries in the survey were the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Romania. The country with the highest proportion of what the study calls “cyberdeviance” – a mix of criminal and non-criminal but risky behavior – was Spain with 75%, followed by Romania, the Netherlands and Germany with around 72%. . The UK was last at 58%.

The study was carried out in collaboration with Europol’s cybercrime centre, an EU body that works with criminal agencies across the economic bloc, and funded by the EU’s Horizon fund. Calls for more education of young people and parents about what is potentially harmful and risky online behavior.

The findings were published in a benchmark online regulatory environment in the EU and the UK. In the UK, the online safety bill, which returns to parliament next week, would create a slew of new offences. They include encouragement online self-harm And sharing deepfake pornographyi.e. images that have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent.

Aiken said: β€œThe online safety bill is potentially game-changing and addresses key issues faced by every country. It could act as a catalyst to take account of the tech industry. The bill establishes a number of key measures to protect children and young people; however, our findings suggest that there should be more attention to accountability and prevention, particularly in the context of youth online crime.”

The EU has just adopted the Digital Services Act, which requires major online platforms and Google to take action against risks such as cyber-violence against women and online harm to children.