‘Two-thirds of British teenagers have not reported harmful social media content’

Almost half of British teenagers say they have been exposed to harmful content on social media but two-thirds did not report it, a survey suggests.

Some 95% of 13 to 17-year-olds have a social media account, and 46% of them have seen posts that they believe should not have been allowed, according to the study by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

However, almost two-thirds of teenagers (62%) who believe they have seen harmful content say they rarely or never report these posts, with just 7% saying they always do.

Some 66% said that seeing harmful posts would not make them want to delete their account, while 53% said it would not put them off signing up for an account in the first place.

Among adults, 44% of those who had seen harmful content said they rarely or never report it, while 20% said they always do.

Three-quarters of adults (76%) said it was the was the responsibility of parents or guardians (76%) and social media companies (74%) to protect children on social media.

Some 83% said they believed that social media companies have a responsibility to monitor for harmful content on social media, while 49% said government also has a role.

CIM chairwoman Leigh Hopwood said: “With regulation of social media under review we felt it was important to seek out the views and experiences of the users themselves.

“It is alarming that so many children have seen inappropriate posts on social media and failed to report them. Moreover, while more adults do report harmful content, it is concerning that only one in five always do so.

“Our research shows that we could make a huge difference quickly if we all take the simple action of hitting the report button when we see something that shouldn’t be on social media.

“When the new regulations take effect then social media companies will have a legal responsibility to do something about it once we have reported it.”

YouGov surveyed 2,032 adults and 550 children aged 13 to 17 between May 31 and June 4.