Young Israelis navigate through antisemitism and graphic content online

Fake news was a prevalent issue, with 61% of teenagers saying they encountered misinformation about the conflict.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Findings from an Israeli survey released on Thursday shed light on the challenges youth face navigating offensive content, antisemitic discourse and threats in online spaces.

The study, led by the National Headquarters for the Protection of Children Online – Unit 105 and the Office of the Chief Scientist, unravels a concerning narrative of exposure to offensive content and vulnerability to online harm among Israel’s youth.

Conducted in the first quarter of 2024, a total of 1,155 respondents aged 12-17 participated.

Just over half of all the youth surveyed (51%) said they were exposed on social networks or online games to difficult and offensive content related to the war, including disturbing images, videos, conversations, and posts circulating on various online platforms.

Older teens 15-17 showed a higher rate of exposure at 71%.

Nearly two-thirds of the teens, 61%, expressed feelings of distress or concerns due to their exposure to offensive content online.

Of the youth who defined themselves as secular and/or traditional, 69% were exposed to difficult or offensive content and of the youth in Arab society 65% were exposed to difficult or offensive content.

Fake news was a prevalent issue with 61% of teenagers saying they encountered misinformation about the conflict.

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Moreover, 44% said that they were exposed to harm from another person online — 34% of the harm was verbal violence, while 16% were incidents of shaming, humiliation or boycott.

“The ‘Iron Swords’ war has also spilled over into the online space and we are witnessing many injuries to children and teenagers online, as is clear from the hard data that is flooding the survey,” said National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

“It is important that parents show involvement and responsibility, and guide their children on how to avoid harm and exposure to difficult content,” he added.

The National Headquarters for the Protection of Children Online – 105 called on parents to take measures to protect their children. In particular, it urged parents to talk to their children about not watching or sharing difficult or graphic images or videos — and to pay attention to changes in their behavior.

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