British media ignores the brighter side of the internet

The British media’s negative view of the internet is out of sync with the public’s positive opinion, according to research released today. Analysis of 1,000 media articles on internet topics found that over three quarters of coverage (76%) had a strong negative sentiment, in contrast with public opinion, where a national study of 5,000 people for Nominet found that 87% of Brits believe the internet has had a positive effect on their lives. The research marks the seventh annual Nominet Internet Awards ceremony, which last night recognised several British projects which help to make the internet a more secure, open, accessible and diverse experience for all.

Analysis of media coverage reveals that the three most common internet topics are cyber-bullying and trolling (appearing in 18% of articles), online fraud (14%) and online privacy (9%), while the three areas of Brits’ lives that the internet has had the biggest positive impact on are in managing our everyday life (98%), helping with our personal & social life (93%) and supporting with skills, knowledge & learning (86%).

The internet has had a number of positive effects on our everyday lives: 63% of us have used it to keep in touch with friends or family we don’t normally see, 69% have saved money while shopping, a third (33%) have learnt a new skill and a quarter (25%) have used it to find a new job. The internet brings us entertainment – six in 10 (59%) of us have caught up on TV shows after they were broadcast and over 4 in 10 (43%) download or stream music – and is also redefining our personal relationships, with over a third (36%) saying that the internet has helped them in their love life. The winners of the 2013 Nominet Internet Awards mirror the diversity of benefits the internet provides to all ages and all walks of life, ranging from a youth mentoring service to homemade baby food delivery service (see below for full list of winners).

Respondents to the survey have noticed the media’s negative take on the internet, saying that cybercrime and online trolling or bullying were the internet topics they remembered most from the media (for 24% and 23% of respondents respectively). However, while a quarter say media coverage makes them take more steps to ensure their online safety, most seem to ignore it, with the majority (52%) saying media coverage has no effect on how they use the internet.

“For all that the internet may get some bad press, the majority of us clearly love the internet,” comments Lesley Cowley, CEO of Nominet. “The survey shows that despite its media profile, only the smallest minority of Brits perceives the internet to be a negative influence. While safety and security are of course a concern when online, we mustn’t forget the positive difference it makes to our lives and wider society every day.”

For more insights from the studies, please see our infographic, or the full reports from Precise and Opinium Research, who carried out the media analysis and consumer research respectively.

Nominet Internet Award 2013 winners unveiled

The research is released as five initiatives using the internet as a force for good in the UK were recognised at last night’s Nominet Internet Awards. Dedicated to honouring the very best achievements and innovation on the UK internet, the NIA judges picked five winners from a pool of 29 shortlisted nominees.

The winners are as follows:

Innovative Internet Business: My Mummy Made It is the service that delivers fresh, homemade baby and toddler food straight to your door. It makes affordable homemade food for busy parents and the food is cooked to order – tailored in taste, size and texture to the child’s likes. It also supplies nurseries with daily hot deliveries, producing around 80 covers per day.

Runner up: Trademark Direct, delivers low-cost trademark advice and registration services. Since 2010, it has filed and registered more trademark applications than any other firm, making it the number one business in this sector in the UK.

Online skills & training: Brightside is a charity providing online mentoring – structured and supported online contact between young people and a trained mentor who can support them in making important decisions about their future education and employment options. Brightside has also developed a suite of skill-building activities for mentees around important topics such as money management.

Runner up: The Dementia Centre Virtual Care Home, was funded by a Nominet Trust grant and is an online tool that allows people to see how the design of a home’s interior can easily be adapted to make it dementia-friendly. As well as encouraging awareness of the impairments associated with dementia, the resource encourages thoughtful building.

Highly commended: Listening Books offers an educational audio streaming service to pupils throughout the UK who struggle to access books in the usual way due to an illness, disability or learning difficulty.

Making the Internet a Safer Place: Oii My Size is a youth led campaign focused on raising awareness among young people about a number of issues including the intimidating and unacceptable manner in which some young men communicate with young women, both in person and online.

Runner up: Internet Watch Foundation operates the UK internet Hotline for the public and IT professionals to report criminal online content in a secure and confidential way. It works in partnership with the online industry, law enforcement, government, and international partners to minimise the availability of this content.

Doing good online: Global Giving UK has created a dynamic, virtual marketplace to unleash people’s potential to make positive change happen. It uses technology to innovate in the giving of time, skills and money and provide online training/tools to benefit local communities worldwide.

Runner up: Pennies is the electronic charity box that offers people the option to add a small donation to charity when they pay for goods or services online using a card. In just over two years since it launched with its first online retailer, Domino’s Pizza, it has raised over £600,000 from 2.5 million donations made at online checkouts.

Digital Innovation in Public Services: Lambeth Library Challenge – Lambeth Council wanted to create a tool that would help to build a more equal relationship with its residents and give them genuine influence on how we spend its libraries’ budget. Lambeth is pioneering new approaches to be more transparent and open with residents so that more people can be involved in designing and delivering services that meet local needs.

Runner up: School Guide was set up in Bath, England in 2012 and aims to provide parents with the tools to enable them to find the best school for their child. School Guide went to all individual sources of information and created a clearly presented, modern school directory.

Highly commended: UK Online Centres is a 5,000-strong network of centres that supports people to use computers and the internet. The network’s 5,000 community-based, grassroots locations have not only had a huge impact in supporting people to improve their lives by saving money online, staying in touch with friends and family and learning more, but they have also been able to ensure that people in the hardest to reach communities can confidently access the online public services they need.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Cowley said: “Once again the Nominet Internet Awards nominees represent the diversity of online innovation in the UK. Across all industries and sectors, the last twelve months has seen us take a huge leap forward in making the internet an even greater source of economic and social good for all. I’m delighted that for the seventh year in a row, the awards have uncovered some shining examples of the positive impact the internet is having around the UK.”

For more details on the Nominet Internet Awards 2013, the individual winners, runners-up and nominees, please visit: nia.nominet.org.uk. You can also join or follow the conversation on Twitter, using #nia2013.

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