Swiss youths are experiencing worrying rates of online sexual harassment and cyberstalking, with girls more affected than boys, say researchers. This coincides with the steep rise in the use of video sharing apps such as TikTok.
This content was published on November 24, 2022 - 12:03 November 24, 2022 - 12:03 Keystone-SDA/jdp
assédio sexual online aumenta entre adolescentes suíços
The 2022 James studyexternal link , published on Thursday by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and Swisscom, revealed that nearly half of the 1,000 adolescents surveyed had been sexually harassed at least once online, compared to 19% in 2014.
Girls are far more often victims of the phenomenon than boys (60% versus 33%). Half of the teenage girls harassed were encouraged by a stranger to send erotic photos.
Overall, Instagram (81%) and Snapchat (76%) remain the most-used social networks by Swiss teenagers. However, the Chinese video app TikTok has recorded a meteoric rise with 67% of young people regularly using the platform, compared to 51% two years ago and 8% in 2018.
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When on social networks, young people are publishing posts less frequently than in the past, and when they do, it is rather“stories” or ephemeral“snaps”. They tend to look at other posts and“like” them or write personal messages via chat. Some 97% of youth surveyed communicate on WhatsApp.
In contrast, teens have virtually disappeared from Facebook: only 5% still use it every day or several times a week. In 2014, 79% did so.
Girls are more frequent users of social media apps, particularly TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest, whereas boys are more likely to spend their time online playing video games. Some 79% of young people play video games at least some of the time, with boys (93%) far more likely to play than girls (65%). However, the share of girl gamers has increased since 2018.Call to action
The findings, say the ZHAW researchers, point to an urgent need to protect youth, particularly during a sensitive phase of personal and sexual development. They call for a comprehensive range of media education measures.
In addition to more attention in schools,“parents must also take a greater interest in the problem and assume their responsibility. Just as they accompany their children on the street, they must do the same on the Internet,” said Michael In Albon, who is responsible for media protection for youth at Swisscom.
Another worrisome phenomenon, says the study, is that youth are becoming more careless about privacy protection . Ten years ago, 84% of young people said they had activated the appropriate privacy settings on social networks, but today only 60% said they had. While adolescents have become more discreet about the information they publish about themselves, their fear of personal data being leaked online has decreased.
The James study, released every two years by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and Swisscom, is based on a survey of media habits of some 1,000 Swiss between the ages of 12 and 19.
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