THE BLOG

BBC Radio 1 - Online Bullying Is an Issue for Young People, so It's an Issue for Us

12/02/2015 16:07 GMT | Updated 14/04/2015 10:59 BST

If you're famous, it's officially cool to be self-depreciating on social media. US comedian and YouTube-native Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets feature is cult-status, funny, and - well - mean. Famous person reads out-loud, to camera, the acerbic comments which unsuspecting online "haters" have aired on Twitter. The result is funny, not least because seeing pop stars taken down a peg or two can be satisfying, but it's also provocative; taking the venom off the anonymous Internet and into real life is an uncomfortable shift.

Radio 1's job is to reflect young people's lives in the UK, so if online bullying is an issue for them, then it's an issue for us.

We've harnessed some of our most powerful presenters in the digital world - our vloggers - to use their influence and, frankly, scale to magnify the issue and to try and give teenagers the ability to have a happier and safer time online.

A recent BBC Learning poll of over 2,500 11-16 year olds found that around 1 in 5 admitted to placing pressure on others to join in with negative online behaviour, and over two thirds had experienced or witnesses online bullying. Last week's admission by Twitter boss Dick Costolo that the company "sucked" at dealing with trolls was a stark reminder of how complex and debated this area is.

We've been focusing on these issues this week, starting with Dan and Phil's Guide to Online Safety where the most powerful vloggers share tips and shine a spotlight on real life stories to make people think about how they act online. Next, Chris Stark, Radio 1's accidental Youtube star, gathered a panel of experts from Anti-Bullying charities to a youth psychologist to break down the stories of public figures like British gymnast Beth Tweddell and Maisie Williams - the young and digitally prolific star of Game of Thrones. The analysis and advice was sometimes conflicting - to respond or not to respond? Is it better to seek solace from a bad online experience from your parents, friends or perfect strangers from an organisation?

The truth is, most of us are aware of the basic measures you can take to keep yourself and young people safer online, but when personal resilience and the debate around "freedom of speech" comes into play, the direction is more complicated.

This is something we hope to get our teeth into in our Internet Takeover Special on Thursday night. For the first time, nine of Radio 1's vlogger alumnae are gathering to discuss negative online behaviour and bullying. It's in front of an audience who will contribute their stories, ideas and experiences; the desired effect would be the ultimate manifestation of 'a problem shared is a problem halved'.

I'm proud our audience see Radio 1 as a safe and trusted guide, beyond making sense of the abundant musical landscape. I believe Radio 1 should continue to grow its reputation for championing the positive ways young people can change their culture in society today. And although we can't stop nasty people online, I hope the earthquake effect of our audience's digital footprint might just spread enough awareness to make a difference and provoke some real change.

Listen to Radio 1's Internet Takeover Special at 9pm tonight on Radio 1. Watch highlights on Radio 1's channel in BBC iPlayer from Friday 13th February.