Nominet’s annual Digital Youth Index shows changing attitudes of 8–25-year-olds to technology

20th November 2023

20/11/2023 – More than half of young Brits (53%) have used an Artificial Intelligence chatbot like ChatGPT over the last year to help with their schoolwork, emails or their job – with young adults (over 16s) more concerned that AI will replace them in the workforce.

While 94% of young people surveyed said they felt safe online, 76% were exposed to upsetting experiences online – up 7% on last year.   Young people’s exposure to fake news (up 4%), hate speech (up 4%) and sexual content online (up 6%) have all risen in the last year.

Now in its third year, the Nominet Digital Youth Index is an annual benchmarking study of 4000 8-to-25-year-olds in the UK.  Nominet is a public benefit company that operates and protects .UK infrastructure and uses surplus funds to support projects that promote digital inclusion.  The Digital Youth Index is conducted with research partner, Opinium.

Key findings include:


  • 94% feel safe online – they also say they understand what internet safety means, are aware of key risks and know basic measures to keep themselves safe online
  • 76% say they have experienced upsetting online experiences, up 7% on 2022’s survey
    • Exposure to fake news up 4% year-on-year
    • Hate speech up 4%
    • Sexual content up 6%
    • Being asked to share inappropriate sexual images up 5%


  • 53% of respondents have used an AI chatbot and are curious about how they can use them in their lives
  • 54% of young people are worried about AI’s impact on jobs in the future and what this might mean for them


  • Young people claim to spend an average of 4-5 hours a day online
  • Most time online is spent browsing social media, chatting with others and accessing entertainment
  • 95% of young people are on at least one social network including those who are under the age limit for those services.
  • 58% of under 16s say they use WhatsApp – despite its age limit of 16+
  • Only 40% of young people believe social media is a force for good – a similar proportion (38%) state it has a negative impact on people like them
  • X/Twitter was the social network where most respondents (77%) said they had seen distressing content
  • Those in marginalised groups – such as young people in the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, and mental health conditions are much more likely to state that social media has a negative impact on them


  • 14% of all young people (2m) lack access to a laptop or desktop computer – suggesting worrying trends about their ability to have the same quality of education or access to the workplace as their peers


  • 15% of all young people are without broadband access at home
  • 11% of young people said they had to change or cancel their internet package this year as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis continuing a trend from 2022’s data (10%)

The Nominet Digital Youth Index measures young people’s digital access and inclusion, their ability to conduct certain digital skills, how safe they feel online and their related physical and mental wellbeing.  Survey 4,000 young people in the UK aged 8-25, it’s the only free-to-use, national annual benchmarking report of this scale that identifies and monitors the key drivers, issues and opportunities in young people’s relationships with digital technology in the UK.  It looks to highlight areas of disadvantage, inform policymaking and help to improve education and life outcomes for young people today and in the future.

On the Digital Youth Index 2023, Paul Fletcher, Nominet’s Chief Executive said:

“While society at large grapples with artificial intelligence at all levels, it’s encouraging to see young people embracing technology so quickly and using it in their daily lives. We must continue to encourage this inquisitive nature from the next generation – and despite their adoption of AI, many still have concerns about the potential impact on their future.

“When it comes to online safety, it looks like young Brits are growing in confidence, but the rise in exposure to upsetting content highlights that tackling online harm remains important to young people.

“Elsewhere, our data shows us the reality that despite young people’s lives and their education system going online, a concerning 14% of two million of them still don’t have access to a laptop or desktop computer, and this has the potential to significantly disadvantage those that would benefit the most.”

You can read the full 2023 Nominet Digital Youth Index report here.