Black History Month in the UK is drawing to a close, but there is never a wrong time for showing our support for the black British community and shining a light on the inexcusable levels of online hate they suffer. Young black children encounter various forms of online hate, including racial slurs, derogatory comments, and discriminatory actions across social media platforms, online gaming communities, and other digital spaces.
In today’s digital era, the internet has become an indispensable part of our lives, offering a vast space for connection, education, and entertainment. However, amid its benefits, the online world is rife with an alarming prevalence of hate speech and discrimination. 43% of young people who are Black, Asian or another ethnic minority, have experienced hate speech online.
Instances of online racist hate not only perpetuate and normalise racism in the UK but also deeply affect the mental and emotional welfare of young black children. The impact of such hate can be profound, it has been shown to cause:
a sense of alienation,
and a feeling of unsafety in online spaces
There are also documented physical effects for those experiencing extreme online hate or cyberbullying, such as headaches, stomach aches and sleeping issues.
After Elon Musk acquired Twitter/X, the United Nations stated that “that the use of the hateful and racist ‘N’ word on the platform increased by almost 500 per cent within a 12-hour period compared to the previous average”.
Experiences people have online shape their values, attitudes, and actions in the real world.
Exposure to racist hate speech amongst white youths increases prejudice, ideas of dehumanization and a lack of empathy towards people of colour. The anonymity and perceived ‘no man’s land’ of the online world often emboldens individuals to use hateful words, slurs, and phrases they would never use in person. It is incredibly dangerous, not only for the mental health of those experiencing the hate but because it bleeds into the offline world and can have re-world consequences.
Tackling this issue requires a multi-faceted approach.
Education plays a pivotal role in raising awareness and promoting inclusivity. We will soon launch our new workshop for secondary schools - ‘Digital Citizenship” (included in our RISE e2e programme but can also be requested as a stand-alone talk) this will include a focus on online bullying and hate speech.
We must make sure that children do not become victims or perpetrators of online hate, through education we can help make sure the next generation are kinder and more thoughtful online.
Social media platforms and tech companies bear a responsibility to enforce policies against hate speech. By implementing robust content moderation systems and by taking swift action against those who use racist hate speech, platforms can significantly reduce the spread of discriminatory content and create a safer space for young black internet users.
Our individual responsibility as adults also plays a crucial part in tackling online hate speech. As members of the online community, it’s imperative for each of us to use our voices to combat racist content and language. Standing in solidarity and speaking out against such behaviours can create a culture of accountability, fostering an environment where discrimination is not tolerated.
By embracing diversity, celebrating differences, and advocating for a more inclusive digital space, we contribute to a world where every child feels safe and empowered online.