One-Third of Young Britons Send Nude Selfies

Credit: Michael Jung/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Michael Jung/Shutterstock)

Over a third of British young people have sent others at least one naked digital photo of themselves. Of those, almost one in four said their naked photos had been posted online without their permission. Sixty-two percent of British young people say they'd received nasty private messages via social-media mobile apps.

That's according to The Wireless Report 2014, a comprehensive recent study of online habits and experiences of Britons aged 13-25, conducted by Brighton-based anti-bullying advocacy group Ditch the Label.

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British young people appear to be partial to Snapchat: Seventy-four percent of respondents said they use the mobile app, and 65 percent used Snapchat several times a day. Over half of respondents also used Instagram, Skype, Kik messenger and/or WhatsApp.

In its examination of cyberbullying, the survey asked respondents about their experiences with Snapchat, Instagram, Skype, Kik, WhatsApp, Vine, Viber, Tinder, Grindr, Line and Blendr.

Despite its popularity, Snapchat only accounted for 11 percent of the nasty messages respondents reported receiving. The winners of that dubious award were Kik Messenger, accounting for 33 percent of nasty messages, and Grindr, at 35 percent. 

A case study from The Wireless Report 2014, by Ditch the Label

A case study from The Wireless Report 2014, by Ditch the Label

Forty-two percent further reported they had received what the study called "hate-based comments": comments categorized as racist, homophobic, xenophobic or transphobic. Twenty-two percent reported receiving threats via social media apps, ranging from death threats and violence to threats to release individuals' personal information.

Only 48 percent of users who had experienced abuse reported it, the study found. Of those who reported, 41 percent were happy with the outcome, yet only 14 percent felt like their concerns were taken seriously. Twenty-two percent said they had no response to their report, and 16 percent were disappointed with the outcome of reporting the abuse. 

The study also looked at sources of online abuse: According to respondents, 25 percent of it came from people they didn't know, 21 percent came from people they knew only online, and 21 percent came from anonymous users. Eighteen percent came from people the respondents knew offline. Twenty-four percent, almost one in four, of people who received abuse "turned to self-harm," the study found. 

Sexting is popular among British young people, the study found: Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they had sent at least one naked picture, and 49 percent of those said they had done it for "harmless fun." Thirty-nine percent also did it in the hope of receiving photos in return. 

But 24 percent of those who had sent naked photos said that those photos had been shared without their consent. Of those, 26 percent were so distraught that they experienced suicidal thoughts, and 12 percent said they tried to kill themselves.

In its conclusion, The Wireless Report 2014 recommends that people who experience online abuse and cyberbullying document that abuse as best they can.

"If you know the person from school or college," the report said, "take the documented evidence to a teacher and tell them about what is happening."

For The Wireless Report 2014, Ditch the Label polled British young people aged 13-25, and based the data in the report on a sample size of 962 United Kingdom residents who responded voluntarily via the online teen community Habbo. The average age of respondents was 17; 70 percent of respondents were 18 or younger, and 84 percent of all respondents lived in England.

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, onFacebook and on Google+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.