More than half of young people between the ages of 13 and 17 have witnessed actual violence on social media in the past 12 months, including fights, threats and sexual assault, according to research.
A survey conducted on behalf of the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) also found that 24% had seen another child carrying a gun online.
The survey of 2,025 teenagers about their experiences of violence found that 14% had skipped school because they feared being abused, while 65% had changed their behavior, appearance or where they they were going to protect themselves.
Jon Yates, Executive Director of YEF, said: “Far too many of our children are exposed to real and violent content on social media. It is important.
“Children tell us that their fear of violence causes them to skip class, lose sleep and miss the fun times that make up childhood.
“It doesn’t have to be like that. Social media companies need to do a lot more to keep kids safe online. »
About two-thirds of the children surveyed, 1,377 out of 2,025, answered a question about committing violence themselves.
Just under a fifth, or 19%, of those who answered the question said they had committed violence themselves in the past year, mostly kicking, hitting or shoving someone else.
The proportion of children who had witnessed actual online violence varied by region.
Overall, 55% of respondents had seen violent content online, with this figure rising to 60% in the North West, North East and London; and drops to 44% in the South West.
The most common forms of violence were fighting (44%) and threatening to beat someone (33%), but 13% had witnessed sexual assault and 24% had seen someone carrying a weapon.
Fatoumata Bayo Diba, 19, a member of the YEF Youth Advisory Council, said: “Unfortunately, I was not surprised by most of the report’s findings, especially regarding children exposed to violence through social networks. I have younger siblings.
“It worries me about the accessibility of this type of content for them. What worries me most is that seeing violence everywhere you go has become the norm. People and especially children are desensitized to the horror circulating.
The YEF funds programs aimed at preventing children and young people from being affected by violence, as well as research into the most effective ways of doing so.