The Moral Web: Youth Character, Ethics and Behaviour is the 4th report by think-tank Demos on character published since 2015. The report was launched at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Monday 2nd October. Jubilee Centre Director Professor James Arthur joined speakers Vicky Ford MP, Jamie Bartlett (Centre for the Analysis of Social Media), Jonathan Baggaley (PSHE Association), Alex Holmes (Diana Award) to speak in a panel debate chaired by Nicholas Hellen (The Sunday Times). The Moral Web examines the behaviour and decision-making of young people online. The research involved 668 16-to-18 year olds, recruited via Facebook, and explored their online behaviour and responses to different social media scenarios. The research found that 26 per cent of participants admitted to bullying or insulting someone online, while 15 per cent of participants admitted to ‘trolling’ a public figure. The research also found that 88 per cent of participants reported that they have given emotional support to someone via social media.
The report is the fourth report on character published by Demos since 2015, and follows the Demos Character Inquiry in 2011. Previous reports include Learning by Doing, Character Nation and Mind Over Matter, and The Moral Web extends the focus of character development into the online world. Demos suggests that a young person’s character may be significant in determining the extent to which they engage in positive or negative online behaviours. Young people who admitted to engaging in risky or unethical behaviour online demonstrated lower levels of moral sensitivity, and had lower self-reported character strengths. The research also found that young people with higher levels of empathy and self-control were less likely to engage in bullying via social media.
Report author Peter Harrison-Evans has written a blog piece for HuffPost UK. The report was also covered in the Daily Telegraph.
You can read the full report here.