By Chris Leeming, Social Impact Lead at Nominet
The Nominet Digital Youth Index is an annual benchmarking tool which offers insights into young people’s digital lives and the key drivers, issues and opportunities in their relationships with technology in the UK. But it’s also so much more than that, it’s a driver to harness change, a reliable source to inform and inspire and a resource to provoke and support discussions.
On a personal level, the Nominet Digital Youth Index was a big reason that I wanted to join the Nominet Social Impact team. The opportunity to work on this project with talented colleagues and contributors all interested in putting the voice of young people front and centre of a piece of research has been a privilege. As we make the final preparations ahead of this year’s launch, with the data and report in our hands, the hope is that we hand this over to civil society who can use it in ways that benefit young people directly.
We’ll soon be launching the 2023 data, which sees us enter the third year of the Index. Underneath some of the key headlines, the year-on-year comparisons and emerging trends and themes become even more valuable across the five pillars: wellbeing, safety, skills, connectivity, and access.
What can we expect from the 2023 data?
The Digital Youth Index has always had listening at its core, and this year’s research was no different. Understanding how young people feel about digital technology, opportunities and risks continues to be a focus for the 2023 data.
So, what can we expect from this year’s data? Well, there’s some powerful insights across all the pillars, alongside some particularly pressing and relevant areas of digital technology.
Digital poverty is one such area and an ever-increasing issue elevated by the cost-of-living crisis. Last year we identified young people’s access to ‘critical devices’ so that they could engage in their education, with their friends and wider society. This year we’ve honed in even further, focusing on how young people access the internet and digital devices for vital purposes such as education and employment via ‘learning devices’. The data is showing us that access is not evenly split across demographics or social grade.
We consider the post-pandemic world, the long tail of which is still having an impact on young people and their wellbeing. Once again, we’ll consider how online harms and exposure to distressing content, such as hate speech and fake news has changed year-on-year.
This year, we’ll also explore the rise of AI and the attitudes towards chatbots and similar technologies amongst young people. Behind all of the headlines, what do young people actually think about it and how it may affect their future? We also look at examples of how they’re using it, whether that’s using tools to assist with education or something more experimental.
We’re also striving to gain a greater understanding of the experiences young people have of spending, making and losing money online, including important topics around gambling, how gaming impacts wellbeing and the growing problem of online scams. Behaviours around gaming have become a lot more nuanced since I was a teenager, trying to persuade my mum to buy me 18+ games, and I’m looking forward to exploring this further at our launch event with expert speakers.
Alongside this valuable first-hand data and insight from young people and the support networks around them, we also have the privilege of having specialist Youth and Advisory panels, some of whom have written pieces for this website, to help us digest the data and pinpoint trends which need attention to start informing meaningful change across wider policies and initiatives.
We’d love for you to join us…
We’re thrilled to be holding a launch event for the 2023 Digital Youth Index on Wednesday 22nd November where we’ll be unveiling this year’s data. We’ll also be joined by expert panellists and will be hosting engaging discussions on the key findings.