Trolling and safety fears plague young women online, study finds

Young women are more concerned about the mental health impact of being online than other internet users, with many citing fears for their personal safety and harm from trolling, research from the watchdog finds British media.

Regulators and campaigners around the world are increasingly calling on big tech companies to tackle hate speech on online platforms, a plea echoed by the head of UK regulator Ofcom when she unveiled the report on the Internet use.

“The message from women going online is loud and clear,” Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes said in a statement on Wednesday.

“They are less confident about their personal safety online and feel the negative effects of harmful content like trolling more deeply.”

The report found that women aged 18-34 were more likely than any other group to report an overall negative impact on mental health, with 23% disagreeing that being online has a positive effect on their mental health.

In comparison, 45% of men over the age of 18 agreed with this statement, while boys aged 13-17 were the most likely to agree with it.

Dawes urged big tech companies to take women’s online safety concerns seriously.

The research, which was conducted last year and surveyed more than 6,000 people, found that 60% of users who had experienced trolling said they were embarrassed or offended by it, compared to only 25% of men.

The study also found that women feel less empowered to speak up and share their opinions online.

The sites and apps most visited by adults belonged to Alphabet (GOOGL.O), the owner of Google and YouTube. This was followed by Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, and Amazon (AMZN.O).

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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