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Should we blame influencers for online harm?

03rd - 10th February 2023

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Total votes


5-11 votes


11-16+ votes

You can’t move for influencers these days. It’s not just young, good looking things selling a lifestyle. Influencers can be anyone who has a large following on social media and uses that audience to promote products.

From clothes and make up to health routines and landlords. Yes, landlords, influencers attract huge numbers of views and are in every interest sector that exists in the wild west that is social media.

To raise awareness for Safer Internet Day on 7 February 2023, our voters explored many aspects of how influencers make money. This was alongside considering some of the intended and unintended consequences on the young people who consume their content.

But should they be held responsible for what they promote? There were some excellent discussions around this and ultimately decided.

young primary aged pupil in school uniform with backpack


"Influencers are not responsible for our safety because it isn't their job to keep us safe. We should be able to make safe decisions ourselves or with the help of parents and carers.”

young person thinking


"Influencers can try to get people to buy things, or do things, but people have their own minds and make their own decisions so we can't blame the influencers.”

young person wearing backpack


“We shouldn't blame them completely for online harm as they [are] just following trends however we shouldn't forget the harm they are causing to young followers and should be making them aware of their influential power they have especially on young children and teens."

45% of those aged 5-7 said the internet makes us want to copy others.

  • Our youngest group of voters were considering whether the internet makes them want to copy others.
  • The majority, at 55%, voted 'No' to this question.
46% of voters aged 7-11 think influencers are responsible for our online safety

  • Those aged 7-11 were discussing whether influencers are responsible for our online safety.
  • 54% voted 'No', making it quite a close cut result.
72% of those aged 11-16 believe influencers are not to blame for online harm

  • Our 11+ vote was much more decisive this week, with 72% voting 'No' to the question: "Should we blame influencers for online harm?"
79% of those aged 7+ said they have been influenced to buy something online.

  • For this VoteTopic, we provided some additional questions for our voters to consider. These were optional questions offered to our voters aged 7+.
  • The first of these was: "Have you been influenced to want to buy something?"
  • Interestingly, 79% voted 'Yes', which differs to our 5-7 result for a similar question. This suggests the internet's influence on us gets stronger as we get older.
42% voted that they are most influenced by their friends. This was more so than celebrities, family, influencers and teachers.

  • The second of our additional questions was: "Who are you most influenced by?"
  • Voters could choose from the options, 'Celebrities', 'Family', 'Friends', 'Influencers' and 'Teachers'.
  • Friends received the most votes, followed relatively closely by Family at 39%.
63% voted that they are responsible for their own online safety more than anyone else.

  • The final additional question this week was: "Who is most responsible for your online safety?"
  • The vote swung heavily towards 'You', meaning we are responsible for our own safety online.
  • The other options were, 'Government', 'Influencers', 'Parents/Carers', 'Schools & Colleges' and 'Social Media Companies.'
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Feedback from our Impact Partners

For Safer Internet Day, two of our Impact Partners responded to what young people said about influencers and online harms.

Lauren Seager-Smith, Chief Executive of Kidscape and Andrew Hassett, Director of Communications and Advocacy at End Violence Against Children.

Kidscape are a charity that helps to provide support and guidance to help young people challenge bullying.

End Violence Against Children is a global partnership that is aimed solely at Sustainable Development Goal 16:2 End all forms of violence against children.

Click below to see what they had to say.