Tuesday was safer internet day the aim of which is to inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.
That evening, I joined with The Open University and Stirling University for a panel discussion and book launch about online misogyny and hate crime.
I was asked to give some personal reflections about the experience of women politicians online and in doing so shared some figures from UN findings that make for stark reading. 81% of female parliamentarians have experienced psychological violence online and 46% feared for their security and the safety of their families.
As well as obvious concern for the individual women experiencing this abuse we should also all be concerned about the wider societal impact. I know that there are people who seeing what some are subjected to, are quite simply put off participating in politics, campaigning or public life. Without full and equal participation of a diverse range of people from our communities we are undoubtedly missing out on important voices, opinions and perspectives. Policy outcomes will be poorer and our society poorer.
The Scottish Government consultation on hate crime is open until February 24th Individuals and organisations can submit their views via the scot.gov website.
The online sphere can of course be a space where good things happen and I was interested to see research showing 48% of young people say being online makes them feel like their voices and actions matter. Maximising on the collective power of the internet, 42% have been inspired to take positive action by sharing support for a campaign, social movement or petition.
This year in the UK, the focus of Safer Internet Day was on how consent works in an online context and asked young people to explore how they ask, give, and receive consent online. This could be in their friendships or relationships, how they take and share images and videos or how they manage their privacy and data.
The campaign encourages young people to explore how the internet works, who owns the information that is shared on it, and how they can actively take ownership of digital spaces.
Safer Internet Day 2019 can be a useful reminder to people to take control of their online lives and to feel that they can harness and use the positive power of the internet for good. For more information and some useful resources visit