New report: Children’s online risks & opportunities: comparative findings from EU Kids Online & Net Children Go Mobile

The past years we had both EU Kids Online and Mobile Youth investigating the use of technology by kids and youth in the different member states of the EU.

They just published a comparative report which highlights the latest findings on children’s online access and use; activities; social networking; digital skills; risks and harm; parental mediation and recommendations. It includes a wealth of graphs comparing the findings from the EU Kids Online and Net Children Go Mobile surveys, focusing on seven European countries. The report thus offers urgent recommendations for industry, government, educators and awareness-raisers and families.

These are the insights of the executive summary:

  • In 2010, half of European 9-16 year olds ever used the internet in their bedroom; now two thirds go online there weekly.
  • Internet use at school is highest in Denmark and the UK and it is very low in Italy.
  • Although children do more online in 2014, most do not climb far up the ‘ladder of opportunities’.
  • SNS use has increased for boys and teens; 22% 9-10 year olds and 53% 11-12 year olds use Facebook.
  • Romania has seen a large increase in children with 100+ contacts and most have a public profile; by contrast, SNS use is relatively ‘safer’ (more privacy, fewer contacts, less under-age use) in the UK and Ireland.
  • Fewer than half of children see themselves as “digital natives” compared with their parents. Digital selfconfidence has decreased among the 9-10 year olds, only 10% of whom now believe they are more skilled than their parents.
  • Children now report being better able to protect themselves online: more than half of 11-13 years olds (55%) say they can change their SNS privacy settings (it was 43% in 2010); among 14-16 year olds, it is now 79%.
  • The comparison of findings from 2010 to 2014 shows only moderate increases in some risks, and no increase at all for others. Potentially negative forms of user-generated content (e.g. hate, proanorexic or self-harm content) are more common.
  • The proportion of children who reported being bothered or upset online in the past year has increased from 13% to 17%; the biggest increases in recent years are among girls and teenagers.
  • Around half of all 11-16 year olds has encountered one or more of the 10 risks we asked about, with a recent increase among girls and the younger children.
  • In some countries, the changes from 2010 to 2014 suggest children are experiencing more of both risks and opportunities – in Denmark, Italy and Romania (and, less, in Ireland); but in Belgium, Portugal and the UK, children are now benefiting from more online activities without an equivalent increase in risk.
  • Two thirds of parents have suggested ways for their child to use the internet safely, according to children aged 9-16. Indeed, parents prefer far more to talk about internet safety than use parental controls in all countries and for all age groups; but the levels of parental mediation are not increasing despite parental concern and awareness-raising efforts

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