Youth, Vol. 2, Pages 195-216: Young People’s Perspectives on Online Hate, Unwanted Sexual Content, and ‘Unrealistic’ Body- and Appearance-Related Content: Implications for Resilience and Digital Citizenship

Youth doi: 10.3390/youth2020015

Emily Setty

Young people encounter and experience both risks and opportunities when participating as actors and interactors in online spaces. Digital skills and resilience are considered important parts of a “rights-based” approach to keeping young people “safe” online in ways that enable them to avoid harm while benefiting from the opportunities. The present paper discusses findings from focus group research conducted in England with 60 young people aged 13 to 21. The research explored their perspectives on responding to different online harms, including online hate, unwanted sexual content, and unrealistic body- and appearance-related content. The findings are discussed in terms of scholarship on digital citizenship, specifically regarding the social, affective, and technical dimensions of online life and the skills required for resilience. The analysis suggests that there was a tension between young people’s individualistic responsibilisation of themselves and one another for responding to risk online and the socio-emotional aspects of online life as perceived and recounted by them in the focus groups. It is concluded that a youth-centred approach to resilience is required that encapsulates the multidimensional nature of encountering, experiencing, and responding to risk online.

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MDPI Publishing

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