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Power of Image: A report into the influence of images and videos in young people’s digital lives

It is fair to say that in 2017 the internet is powered by images and videos.

From the ever-rising popularity of services like YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram to the pervasiveness of selfies, emojis and memes, while emerging trends like livestreaming and virtual reality look likely to further extend this.

The image and video driven digital world that young people inhabit can magnify the risks and pressures they face, while also offering fun new opportunities for self-expression and creativity.

With virtual reality headsets close to taking off as a family device, there will be a pressing need for children to critically evaluate even the most immersive and engaging content. Meanwhile livestreaming presents new pressures for risk-taking teens who will need even more support to handle impulsivity.

We need to ensure children and young people are: able to evaluate online content, including images and videos which are particularly powerful influencers, and recognise how the content they are exposed to and the people they interact with can affect their own emotions, beliefs and behaviours. able to understand the feelings of others, with socio-emotional skills developed for a digital age and a passion for creating supportive online communities. able to make responsible decisions when creating and sharing content, from photos and videos to conversations and comments. able to support their peers and able to seek help from friends, family, school and wider to ensure that concerns are responded to early and effectively. able to ‘Be the change’ and take an active and empowered role in their online communities by taking action over the negatives and promoting the positives.

These digital and socio-emotional skills are essential now and will be become even more important as new issues emerge and technology continues to develop.

We all have a role to play in empowering children with the skills they need, both now and as they embark on an adulthood where digital skills and emerging technologies will play a fundamental role in their lives.

The Safer Internet Day theme this year sums it up – we have a shared responsibility to make the internet a better place and empower children with key skills. Whether that is schools and the wider children’s workforce, or the internet industry, government, charities, policymakers, and parents, carers and children and young people themselves. We all have a role to play.For Safer Internet Day 2017, 1,500 young people aged 8-17 years took part in an online survey conducted by ResearchBods and commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre. The aim was to explore the role of images and videos in young people’s digital lives and the influence this can have on their self-esteem, behaviour and emotions.

The findings reveal how pervasive the use of images and videos is among young people, and demonstrates the positive role this plays as well as the risks and pressures they may face as a result.