Ongoing discussions surrounding the UK's Online Harms Bill, the Age Appropriate Design Code produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office, and investigations conducted by the Children’s Commissioner of England and Wales and other organisations, have shone attention directly onto the existing processes of content regulation, age verification and industry responsibility.
Catch22 is a charity operating across the UK supporting young people and their families and, for them, the issue of online harms is exponentially increasing. Since COVID-19, children and young people have not just wanted to be online, they have relied on the online world for both social and educational purposes. Social media brings opportunities, but it is also a recognised catalyst for youth violence and exploitation. With young people confined to their homes and screens once again, Catch22’s frontline practitioners are acutely aware of young people being confined at home without the same supervision they would usually encounter.
In June 2020, the Catch22 Online Harms Consultation gathered insights from young social media users, tech platforms, youth services and experienced youth workers, on how violence and exploitation are occurring as a result of online behaviour, whether services are, or are not, prepared in addressing and preventing online harms.
This Consultation has been followed by an ongoing Catch22 Online Harms and Regulation research project led by Dr Faith Gordon at The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, reviewing young peoples’ experiences of online harms, how acceptable use policies differ between platforms, and the challenges for enforcement here and overseas for any future regulation. This event will be discussing some of the interim findings. It will bring together expertise to consider the:
- experiences and concerns of children and young people for any future regulation of social media;
- impact of COVID-19 on the types of online harm and levels of victimisation, as well as the support currently available; and
- legislative proposals in the UK and learnings from other jurisdictions who have implemented changes.