Stay Safe Online: Don’t cross the line into Cybercrime
07 February 2023
This 20th Safer Internet Day (7 February), new information and guidance for parents and young people has been published by the University’s Institute for Connected Communities based on its European Commission Horizon2020 funded research exploring the human and technical drivers of cybercrime.
New materials include:
- A “Pathways into Cybercrime” checklist resource for parents, caregivers and educators
- “What are Cybercrimes?” information poster for home/schools/colleges
- “Crossing the line into Cybercrime” - a quiz for young people designed to educate and raise awareness regarding risky, harmful and criminal behaviours online
These materials are all available on the official Safer Internet Day website and are being shared with Safer Internet Centres across Europe.
Research co-led by Professor Julia Davidson and Professor Mary Aiken along with Kirsty Phillips and Ruby Farr of the Institute for Connected Communities highlights the risks of harmful and illegal behaviour online. The researchers advise young people to:
- Spend less time online/on digital devices
- Avoid use of certain social media platforms that contain potentially harmful content
- Be careful of using online spaces that are potentially more risky than others (ie dark web forums or certain types of chat rooms)
- Only do things online that you would be OK with offline
- Try to avoid taking risks, acting on impulse, or doing harmful things online
- Think carefully about friendships with those who do things that are harmful or illegal, either online or offline
- Improve your knowledge of online safety and security, and find out what behaviours online might be criminal
The posters, information booklets and resources are available to schools, colleges, parents and young people.
Professor Davidson said, “We have produced the resources so people can be more aware of the risks that may lead young people to engage in harmful and even illegal behaviours online.
“For the young people themselves, many do not know they are engaging in illegal behaviour, so it is important to educate them on what online crimes constitute. It is important to know police can still investigate anonymous online crimes.
“And for parents, often their children are far more technologically advanced, so they need help in recognising the signs.”
Professor Aiken said that young people should be empowered to increase their tech skills in positive, constructive and legal ways, and if interested, encouraged to work towards building a potential future career in ever evolving tech sectors.
“These new materials will be shared with Safer Internet Centres in the UK and across all of Europe, in the hope that sharing these youth evidence-based interventions may help to reduce online risk-taking, harmful and even criminal behaviours online working towards reducing online crime at national levels,” she said.
"Our Europe-wide research of a large sample of 16 to 19 year olds found that 11.8 per cent reported that they use Dark Web Forums; and, even more concerningly, 10.7 per cent reported use of Darknet Markets - the Dark Web is a known offender convergence setting, arguably a breeding ground for juvenile cyber delinquency and criminality."
Recent research by the Institute revealed more than two thirds of young people in Europe aged 16-19-years-old are engaging in some form of online risk taking, harmful or criminal behaviour.
Cybercriminal and online risk-taking behaviours are closely correlated, with perpetrators often carrying out multiple crimes, the research covering approximately 8,000 youths in nine European countries including the UK showed:
- 1 in 4 have tracked or trolled someone else online
- 1 in 5 have engaged in sexting, used illegal gambling markets, or shared materials which depict violence
- 1 in 7 have sent out spam messages or self-generated sexual images
- 1 in 8 have engaged in money muling
- 1 in 8 have engaged in online harassment
- 1 in 10 have engaged in hate speech, hacking or cyberbullying
- 1 in 11 have engaged in phishing, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, cyberfraud, identify theft or online racist/xenophobic speech
- 1 in 13 have engaged in sextortion online
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