The annual Digital Youth Index study, carried out by internet firm Nominet found that 69% of young people aged between eight and 25 said they had seen distressing content online, with Reddit, Twitter, TikTok and Tumblr named as the most common places to see it.
The research found that minority groups were the most vulnerable to negative content online – finding that the LGBTQI+ community was nearly twice as likely (52%) to experience hate speech online compared with those who identify as heterosexual (26%).
The feeling that being online had had a negative impact on them was also higher among LGBTQI+ people, as well as among those with a mental health condition.
Nominet’s study also examined digital skills and the access young people had to technology, finding that more than half of those surveyed believe they have to teach themselves essential digital skills – 20% said they felt they had not received good foundational training from school around the digital world.
“It’s never been more important for young people to feel connected, included and secure when they’re online,” Paul Fletcher, Nominet chief executive, said of the research.