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'Greta effect' sees rise in online social activism among children, says Ofcom

Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Photos.

An increase in online social activism among children has been dubbed the "Greta effect" by Ofcom UK in a nod to the Swedish climate change activist.

Last year "saw an increase in the proportion of 12 to 15s who use social media to support causes and organisations by sharing and commenting on posts", according to a report by the UK watchdog.

In 2019 nearly a fifth (18%) of 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK used social media to express support for causes and organisations that may be environmental, charitable or political.

This is up from 12% in 2018.

Ofcom also found that one in 10 children in the age category signed an online petition in the last year.

The phenomenon has been linked by the watchdog to Greta Thunberg, 17, who kicked off an international movement of school strikes after starting Friday protests outside her country's parliament in August 2018.

Increasing numbers of children and students subsequently walked out of lessons and lectures for a series of national and international school strikes.

Speaking about the protests at the UN Youth Climate Summit in September, Greta said: "We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable."

The protests propelled the teenager to fame and she has gone on to meet world leaders.

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