New Research from The Diana Award Reveals Crowdsourcing of Identity amongst Young People due to Online Pressures

A new research carried out by The Diana Award in partnership with ASKfm and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has revealed several important findings that highlight how the online world is changing the way young people develop their identity. 63% of the young people participating in the research say people behave differently online to the way they do offline. 49% of participants feel pressured to reply to people’s messages quickly, and 25% of them feel they have to ‘like’ a post or picture that they don’t actually like. To help young people be themselves online, new resources for parents and teachers have been launched.

Watch film with Dr Linda Papadopoulos where she discuss online pressures with a group of young people:

Today (1 February 2018) new figures released by a YouGov poll, commissioned by the youth charity The Diana Award, reveal how online pressures to conform could be affecting young people’s sense of self. This new online survey conducted amongst GB children, 13-17 years, suggests the amount of pressure teens face online at a critical time when they are exploring and developing their identity. Despite being able to talk to more people than ever before, online judgement and pressure to fit in with a vast online audience limits young people’s ability to be themselves online.

On the back of these findings, The Diana Award is highlighting the importance of teachers and parents helping young people to develop resilience and be themselves online. In partnership with ASKfm and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, The Diana Award is launching an educators’ pack and video to help young people explore their online identity.  The resources are available on the ASKfm Safety Center –

Dr Linda Papadopoulos has also created a blog where she answers young people’s questions about the online world.

Emily, age 16:

“I feel like you feel pressured online to look a certain way, to act a certain way. It’s almost like you can’t be who you are. In an ideal world I’d be a person who would like anything without someone having an opinion on it. But you can’t. You have to like certain things, you have to be a certain way or you’re just going to get negativity from all kinds of people”.

Duncan, age 15:

“People feel like if they are following trends online they are fitting in, there’s a sense of security. I believe so many people have the potential to be great, but the fact that they keep trying to fit in with others means they can’t really be themselves and understand their purpose in life.”

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos:

“Adolescence is a crucial time for identity development: teens are exploring who they are and refining their identity based on the feedback of others. But with the amount of people giving feedback online in the form of likes and comments, young people quickly realise who they need to be to be liked by others. This can lead to pressure to conform and fit in with others and limit young people’s ability to be themselves. That’s why it’s crucial that teachers and parents help young people foster resilience to be true to who they are online.”

Annie Mullins OBE, ASKfm:

“People who grew up before the days of social media had freedom to experiment with their identity, try on different personas and learn from mistakes. Whilst it’s great to be able to communicate with more people than ever before online, this research indicates that the desire to be liked by a large amount of people places enormous pressure on teens at a time when they are trying to find out who they want to be. ASKfm believes it’s crucial for young people to have a space and confidence where they can freely express themselves and learn to be true to who they are. And hope these resources can go someway to support parents and educators engage with young people on these pressures”.

Katie Collett, Head of The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign:

“We want young people to have positive experiences of their online world and empower them to be true to themselves. This partnership with ASKfm and Dr Linda Papadopoulos will enable us to engage with young people, parents and teachers and empower young people to use social media positively to help build their sense of self.”

The Diana Award runs the leading Anti-Bullying Campaign in the UK and Ireland, giving young people, professionals and parents the skills, confidence and training to tackle all forms of bullying and build their digital resilience.

The Diana Award is supporting Safer Internet Day on 6 February 2018. The slogan for this year is “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you.”