One third of British schoolchildren say they have online relationship

One in five British teens say they’d send naked selfies to a partner if another lockdown kept them apart, survey shows

  • Research was conducted by Brook – UK’s leading youth sexual health charity
  • The figures come from anonymous polling of 7,000 students year 9 and above 
  • Children anonymously disclosed information during interactive RSE class

A shocking 34 per cent of British schoolchildren say they have started a new online relationship due to lockdown. 

With so much of their lives revolving around technology, it’s no surprise that many of the nation’s youngsters have turned to their phones to find love.

And with over a third of Year 9 and older students claiming to have started up an online romance in lockdown, should parents be worried? 

Of the 7,000 students who took part in the anonymous poll a worrying 18 per cent stated that they would send a naked selfie to their partner in lockdown.

While 19 per cent said they would accept expensive gifts from someone they had recently met online.

Teens have turned to their phones to find relationships following lockdown finds research by Brook – UK’s leading youth sexual health charity (stock photo)

A majority of 70 per cent said they’d happily make a daily call to a lonely romantic partner or friend every day during lockdown.

The research comes as schools face yet another challenge: How to introduce the government mandated Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) into syllabuses.

Relationships and Sex Education became mandatory in all schools in England at the start of September. However, due to the disruption of the pandemic, schools have been given the option to delay the implementation of RSE until Spring 2021. 

This combined with the fact that many schools have been unable to provide the normal levels of pastoral care has meant many students have missed out on crucial information which could help them make informed decisions about their sexual health, relationships, and wellbeing. 

And with so many of students now taking their relationships online Brook – the UK’s leading sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people – this week delivered the UK’s most broadly accessible-ever RSE lesson, as part of Brook’s national Sexual Health Week.

The session was held online over an interactive platform and offered the students remote access to vital relationships and sex education.

Teaching sexual education with an interactive anonymous platform helps to reduce embarrassment discussing issues

To avoid embarrassment – research from the Sex Education Forum revealing that a third of students feel embarrassment over asking questions about sexual health topics in front of classmates – the educator’s chosen platform, Mentimeter, facilitates anonymous discussion of sensitive and potentially embarrassing topics, including sex, consent, and relationships. 

The anonymous function also allowed students to freely answer the questions posed by Brook about their perspectives on consent, online relationships, and communication with family and friends during lockdown.

Dougie Boyd, Head of Education at Brook comments: ‘As RSE becomes compulsory in schools in England, we wanted to kickstart the academic year with a super engaging and informative lesson that will set the tone for the year ahead.

‘Brook’s Big RSE Lesson is exciting for so many reasons, not only is it an innovative way to deliver core RSE topics, it will boost teachers’ and parents’ confidence, enabling them to start engaging in challenging conversations in the classroom and at home.’   

With 16 per cent of schoolchildren having never learnt about relationships until they are provided with this crucial information at school educators are keen to ensure the teaching is delivered despite the disruption this year. 

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