Adult Online Harms


“The research suggests that there has been an increase in online harassment, bullying, abuse, hate speech and other forms of harm. The findings confirm that distressing content and activity online is increasing. This is becoming a critical issue particularly as nearly all adults aged 16 to 54 are now online and three quarters of adults use a smartphone. There is a lack of research in the UK exploring adult online harms and it is essential for policy and practice to be evidence based.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Next Steps

This project was initiated with 'The Adult Online Hate, Harassment and Abuse: A Rapid Evidence Assessment', produced by Professor Sonia Livingstone (LSE) and Professor Julia Davidson (University of East London), as part of the UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS) Evidence Working Group.This document synthesised existing evidence on online harassment (including cyberbullying and trolling), revenge pornography and image-based abuse, and hate crime. It highlights patterns of abuse based on age, sexual orientation, race and religion.

This project aims to continue evaluating these issues, as greater research is needed to understand Adult Online Harms and inform policy developments.


UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS)


Professor Julia Davidson
Professor Sonia Livingston
Sam Jenkins
Dr Anna Gekoski
Dr Clare Choak
Tarela Ike
Kirsty Phillips


This report draws on the expertise of the UKCIS Evidence Group. We thank them for their input and feedback. With thanks also to reviewers from NGOs, the DCMS and the Home Office who have commented on this report.


Following the publication of the 'The Adult Online Hate, Harassment and Abuse: A Rapid Evidence Assessment', a new publication is being prepared investigating cyberbullying in relation to adult populations.


Adult Online Hate, Harassment and Abuse

Children’s online activities, risks and safety