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Understanding how people communicate online 

A study conducted in September - October 2023 into the types and frequency of communication online between friends, relatives and strangers.

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This survey explores people’s activity online, specifically regarding online communication and frequency of doing so with friends, relatives and strangers.

It also aims to explore people’s understanding of the legality around online communication, specifically in relation to communication with those under 16 years of age.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Having conversations with anyone online was common among UK adults, with seven in ten, respectively, having conversations regularly (at least once a week) with family (72%) or friends (70%)
  • Around half felt confident (46%), able to express their opinions (45%), or be themselves (45%) equally online and in-person
  • Many adults report speaking to strangers online regularly, although there is acknowledgement that they may not always know their ages, or trust they are always telling the truth
  • Six in ten (60%) adults had previously spoken to a stranger online
  • Four in ten reported interacting with strangers online at least once a month (38%), with three in ten reporting doing so at least once a week (28%)
  • The majority (79%) agreed that they would feel uncomfortable speaking to under 16s that they don’t know online and reported they would stop if they found out that a stranger they were speaking to was underage (83%)
  • Over half (55%) reported concern that they may accidentally talk to a stranger aged under 16 online
  • One in four (23%) agreed that it is fine for an adult to talk to under 16s they do not know online, with the majority in disagreement (70%, and half strongly disagreeing at 49%)

The survey was commissioned by Verian (formerly known as Kantar Public) via the Kantar Profiles Online Omnibus survey, which runs twice a week, on behalf of The Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF).

Fieldwork was conducted between 26/Sep/2023 and 02/Oct/2023 and provided an overall sample size of n=2558 adults aged 16+ in the UK. Quotas are set to ensure the achieved sample is broadly representative of the general population. Weighting is also applied to ensure the sample is representative of the general population across a range of demographic variables (gender x age, region, social grade, household size).


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