Internet Matters x Nominet research: Young people’s views on preventing nude image-sharing

A teen uses their mobile phone in bed.

In this blog we share further findings from Round 1 panels on the strength of existing messages designed to prevent children from sharing intimate images online.

Internet Matters has joined forces with Nominet, the public benefit internet company, and expert research agency Praesidio Safeguarding to explore how to combat the growing issue of self-generated child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online.

As well as exploring the delivery routes through which children are receiving education on nude-sharing, Round 1 also tested the relative strengths of messages found in existing prevention campaigns.

See our previous blog on children’s views on Relationships and Sex Education here.

Core prevention messages around nude-sharing

In preparation for Round 1 panels, Praesidio researchers conducted a systematic analysis of nude-sharing campaigns operating the in UK and other territories. From this we are able to consolidate the core prevention messages found in classroom resources and campaigns.

The 8 key messages, drawn out and tested with our panels, are as follows:

1. Negative consequences
2. Resisting pressure
3. Healthy relationships
4. Mindfulness
5. Perpetrator behaviour
6. Negative attention
7. The ‘normalisation’ effect of social media
8. Reassurance and signposting

Research into self-generated child sexual abuse material (CSAM)

See more about this research and the latest updates.


Some prevention messages work for both boys and girls

For example, all groups agree that learning about what constitutes a ‘healthy’ relationship – including that being pressured for nude images was not part of a healthy relationship – was helpful. It was felt to be important to learn this message before young people embark on romantic relationships – i.e. early in Year 7 – and before nude-sharing becomes commonplace.

Practical advice also tends to resonate well, particularly for older teenagers aged 16-17, who saw the value in clear and pragmatic advice on where to go for safe advice following an incident.

‘Advice on how to be safe if you insist on doing it, like ‘no face, no case’. If they are going to do it [send nudes] they should know ways to be safe about it, like not showing your face,’ (Girl, aged 14-16).

Although it should be noted that some of the wider couching of reassurance messaging (‘it’s not the end of the world if your image is shared’) was seen by younger groups as ‘downplaying’ or normalising what really is a serious incident in their eyes.

How prevention messaging could differ for boys and girls

A consistent finding from our panels, across ages and geographies, was the different pressures experienced by boys and girls in relation to image-sharing.

The pressures girls feel

Every female panel discussed the (seemingly unrelenting) pressure that they felt to send nude images online:

‘I don’t know one girl that has pressured a boy for nudes but on Snapchat when I wake up, I’ll have like 15 messages from 50-year-old men asking me to randomly send them nudes. I just report it.’ (Girl, aged 14-16)

Girls identified that this pressure derived from unhealthy male peer group cultures:

“[Boys see it] like it’s a joke or a competition. But it doesn’t feel like that for the other person. They feel they have to do it and send one back. Even though they don’t want to. There is pressure to be seen to be cool.” (Girl, aged 11-13)

For this reason, girls felt that there should be a greater focus on tackling perpetrator behaviour directly. They want boys to know that ‘it isn’t cool or funny’ to pressure girls for nudes, and a greater emphasis should be placed on the harm and distress that this behaviour causes.

The pressures boys feel

Likewise, boys discussed an ‘invisible’ top down pressure they felt from boys in older age groups to procure and distribute images of girls. While few boys had experienced harassment to share a nude of themselves, they felt expectation (both directly and indirectly) from male peers to share intimate images of girls. Boys agreed that a greater focus on resisting pressure from male peers would help to alleviate this.

‘Don’t copy the elders, we’re getting influenced by the elders. You feel like you have to follow the older boys to be accepted. Just a feeling about following the norm,’ (Boy, aged 11-13).

‘You don’t feel accepted by the older boys [if you don’t send nudes]. We feel like we have to follow on,’ (Boy, aged 11-13)

To support this, boys also felt that there was a role for messages about the consequences of sharing nude images online:

‘Imagine how it will affect your future once you tap send,’ (Boy aged 11-13).

A consistent finding from our panels, across ages and geographies, was the different pressures experienced by boys and girls in relation to image-sharing.

What's next?

Following feedback from Round 1 on the efficacy of existing prevention messages and methods, we are returning to our panels with a set of refined messages to test – alongside hypothetical delivery routes.

We will share insights from Round 2 panels in December.

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