EU Kids Online Report

Webwise 150x100 image Today 21st October 2010, Luxembourg, EU Kids Online published the initial findings of its new empirical research into the experiences and practices of European children and parents regarding risky and safer use of the internet and new online technologies.

Although not the most popular, social networking is arguably the fastest growing activity (EU 57%, and IE 57%). Children in Ireland are amongst the most responsible users of social networking web sites. They are the least likely to publish their address or phone number on the profile (IE 7%, EU 14%) and most likely to have a private profile (IE 11%, EU 29%).

The use of the internet for school work is the top online activity (EU 84%). watching video clips (EU 83%), Playing games (EU 74%), and communicating (e.g. instant messaging, EU 61%) are the next most popular types of online activity.

The most common location of internet access is at home (EU 85%), followed by at school (EU 63%). Thankfully, use in their bedroom is still relatively low in Ireland (IE 35%) compared with other countries (EU 48%). However, access is diversifying with 1 in 5 children in Ireland accessing the internet from a handheld device and almost 1 in 3 from a mobile phone.

In general, children in Ireland are less likely to encounter key risk factors – pornography, bullying, sending/receiving sexual messages, going to meetings with contacts first met online – than most of their counterparts abroad. Children in Ireland are ranked 21st of 23 for children who have seen sexual images online in the last 12 months (IE 9%). They also ranked 21st of 23 for those who had been bullied online in the last 12 months (IE 4%). Only in Turkey (TR 2%) fewer children than in Ireland (IR 3%) have gone to meet anyone face-to-face that they first met online.

Risk does not always translate into harm. Although only one in eight (EU 14%) of Europe’s 9-16 year olds has encountered sexual images online, one in three of those who has seen it (EU 5% of all children) report being bothered by this experience. The relation between risk and harm (as perceived by children) varies by country in a complex way. For example, in Bulgaria, one in five children has been exposed to sexual images online but fewer than one in five of those children were bothered by what they saw. By contrast, only one in ten Irish children has seen sexual images online, but nearly half of those who had seen it were bothered by it.

The more children use the Internet the more they are likely to encounter risk. This study indicates that more use of the internet facilitates the development of digital literacy and safety skills. Children in Ireland were at the lower end of the usage spectrum, they were amongst the least likely to engage in a wide range of online activities. This is a concern as more use also brings more opportunities and more benefits.

“We need to strike a greater balance between empowerment and protection of our children. We should be careful not to overstate the potential for harm of the Internet. Unbalanced headlines and self-serving statements by vested interests have contributed to the climate of anxiety that surrounds
new technology and created a fiercely polarised debate in which panic and fear often drown out evidence. This moral hysteria can lead to children being denied the opportunities so obviously afforded by these new technologies.” Simon Grehan NCTE.

“This study shows children are going online younger than ever before and that the youngest children are those who find it hardest to cope with upsetting online experiences. This is the area where schools, parents, government and industry need to work together to protect and educate.” Brian O’Neill, Dublin Institute of Technology.

The EU Kids Online survey also looked at the role of parents in relation to children’s media use. Findings show that most parents do talk to their children about what they do on the internet (70%), or stay nearby when the child is on the internet (57%). Parental involvement is particularly evident in Ireland with 93% of all parents practising some form of mediation. There is also evidence to show that parents in Ireland are more retrictive in their approach to their child’s online activity (EU 83% IE 94%) in the form of setting rules or restrictions to manage their internet use.

The data in this release is taken from a random stratified sample of 23,420 children aged 9-16 who use the internet, plus one of their parents, who were interviewed during Spring/Summer 2010 in 25 European countries including Ireland. The full EU Kids Online report, Risks and safety on the internet, is published simultaneously in London, Luxembourg and Gothenburg on Thursday 21 October and will be available at www.eukidsonline.net . An EU kids Online: Irish National Report will be published in February 2011.

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For more information and to download a PDF version of report visit www.webwise.ie, to speak with Simon Grehan one of the Irish partners in the EU Kids Online Project, please contact NCTE on +353 1 7008200 or email internetsafety@ncte.ie .

Notes to editors:

Research teams from 26 countries participate in the EU Kids Online network. The IRELAND team is based in the Centre for Social & Educational Research, at the Dublin Institute of Technology and at the National Centre for Technology in Education.

Brian O'Neill PhD is Head of the School of Media at the Dublin Institute of Technology, and a researcher in media literacy and new media technologies. He is the author of reports and articles on media policy in relation to children, technology and new media. He is a member of the Digital Radio Cultures in Europe research group. Up to five areas of expertise: media literacy; Safer Internet programmes; digital literacy; ICT in schools; digital rights.

Simon Grehan is the Internet Safety Coordinator at the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE). He is actively involved in researching children's use of the Internet, tracking emerging technologies, and raising awareness of the risks associated with their use. Simon is responsible for Webwise, the NCTE's Internet Safety initiative.

1. The EU Kids Online project aims to enhance knowledge of European children’s and parents’ experiences and practices regarding risky and safer use of the internet and new online technologies, and thereby to inform the promotion of a safer online environment for children.

2. Countries included in EU Kids Online are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

3. The survey findings are based on an in-home, face to face interview with a random stratified sample of children across Europe, and full methodological details can be found in the report and on the project website at www.eukidsonline.net

Press Release NCTE EU Kids Online Report