Digital Romance is a research project led by Brook and the CEOP Command of the NCA that set out to explore how young people are using digital technologies in their romantic relationships. We were interested in how young people use tech as they flirt, meet new partners, start relationships, communicate in relationships, negotiate pressure, break up and survive post break up.
We also wanted to know what support young people might like from others to enable them to have enjoyable and safe relationships. The project is based on a collaboration between Brook and CEOP. Brook is the UK’s leading sexual health and wellbeing charity for under 25s. Brook supports 235,000 young people each year through clinical services and education and wellbeing work.
Led by researchers Dr Ester McGeeney (Brook) and Dr Elly Hanson (NCA-CEOP), the research took place between January and May 2017 and used a mixed methods approach involving an online survey, in person focus groups and one-to-one interviews. The project was motivated by the desire to evolve online safety education by providing an in-depth insight into young people’s views and experiences. The project was influenced by US research conducted by the PEW Research Centre (Lenhart, Smith & Anderson, 2015) that explored the digital romantic practices of young Americans.
To support professionals to share the findings of the research a Powerpoint presentation has also been created which outlines the main themes of the research findings and what children and young people want from parents and professionals to better support their relationships and education.
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has produced new practical guidance 'Sexting in schools and colleges: Responding to incidents and safeguarding young people' to support education settings in developing procedures to respond confidently and effectively to sexting incidents. The guidance has been designed for use by safeguarding leads, headteachers and senior leadership teams in schools and colleges in England.