Risks and Safety for Children on the Internet

A 2011 research reports from EU Kids Online EU Kids Online, the pan-European study which looked at risks and safety on the internet from the perspective of children aged 9-16 and their parents, has recently published two new research reports as follows:

Patterns of risk and safety online: In-depth analyses from the EU Kids Online survey of 9- to 16-year-olds and their parents in 25 European countries

The study found that:
  • 11-16 year olds who are higher in self-efficacy, sensation-seeking and psychological difficulties are more likely to encounter sexual content (images, messages, etc) on the internet.
  • Those who experience more risks are more likely to experience sexual content, especially sexual messages, online.
  • Those children who bully others online have often been bullied themselves online by others.
  • Online bullying is the online risk that most upsets young people, with 85 per cent of the victims saying they were upset to some degree by what happened.
  • Most children who saw sexual content online were not upset, however, and nor were most who went to an offline meeting with an online contact.
  • Children and parents cope with these and other risks in different ways, depending on their circumstances.
  • In countries where children have more mobile and/or private access to the internet, average time spent online is generally higher. However, in some countries, although mobile/private access is high, usage remains lower.
  • When children are categorised according to their online activities, then the percentage of users in each country classified as ‘advanced or creative users’ ranges from 14 per cent in Romania to 50 per cent in Sweden. At the other end of this ‘ladder of opportunities’ are children whose internet use is mostly confined to relatively simple activities – highest in Turkey and Ireland.
  • Self-reported digital literacy and safety skills are positively related to children’s diversity of online activities.
  • In general, countries with high levels of internet use also have the highest percentage of children who have encountered risks on the internet.
  • High internet use in a country is rarely associated with low risk in that country, and high risk is rarely associated with low use. Rather, the more use, the more risk.
Read the full report for a classification of all 25 countries.

For further information on the project, visit the EU Kids Online website.

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