Use our list of practical tips on online hate and trolling to help children and young people to have a safer online experience and build up their resilience to get the best out of the digital world as they grow.
Online hate speech is any online communication or expression which encourages or promotes hatred, discrimination or violence, against any person or group, because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. It can be referred to as cyberbullying or trolling and if serious enough may break the law and be seen as a hate crime.
Being exposed to online hate can have a real impact on young people’s wellbeing. It can also normalise discrimination, hateful attitudes and behaviours towards certain groups of people.
Sometimes online hate can lead to hate crimes offline. There have been incidents where young people who have been threatened online because of their sexual orientation, religion or race and have taken their own lives due to the constant nature of the abuse they received.
Hate crime committed whether online or offline is illegal, however, not all offensive content is illegal in the UK. If it incites hatred based on race, religion and sexual orientation then this can be considered as a crime. For content that does not meet the threshold of a hate crime, the police are required to record it as a hate incident. Laws in the UK aim to protect the freedom of speech so it can be a delicate balance to police online.
How do platforms protect users from online hate?
The majority of platforms have community guidelines and specific policies on hate
speech which outline what is and isn’t allowed on the platform. If a user breaks these rules their account can be blocked or removed from the platform. Some platforms also use artificial intelligence as well as moderators to spot harmful content, so it’s picked up early on. However, a lot of the policing of hate speech on social platforms
relies on users reporting it to the platform so action can be taken.
Children and young people are especially vulnerable to online hate as sometimes many are looking for groups or causes that will give them a sense of identity. Victims of online hate may show:
Sometimes children may “feel left out, like they’ve got no friends”, or impact on their
schooling and may lead to depression.
The best way to protect your child from online hate and trolling is to take an active interest in how they socialise on and offline. Having meaningful conversations with them to develop their critical thinking is essential.
Here are some tips you can share with them to help them develop good online behaviours:
See related advice and practical tips to support children online: