What children do online
The investigators of the EU Kids Online Studies asked kids in Europe what online activities they engage in, with the objective of understanding the opportunities they take advantage of and to get a grasp of the risks online. From this question, interesting results surfaced:
- When children begin to use the internet, the first utility that is given is for doing schoolwork and to play games, without involvement of other people. Only 14% of don’t go past these activities!
- 86% of children, besides schoolwork and games, watch videos online (for example, YouTube). These are all ways of using the internet as a massive media-informative and as entertainment.
- The majority of kids (75%) use online interactivity in order to communicate (create social networks, send instant messages and mails) and read/watch the news. 56% of kids play online with other kids, download movies and music and share content that is the same from both sides (for example, via webcam or messages).
- 23% of kids consulted visit chat rooms, share files, visit blogs and spend time in the virtual world.
What are the risks for children?
This study shows the main risks that children who have online experiences are exposed to. This can be summed up in three main topics tied to situations where they can establish relationships (online/offline), expose aspects of their privacy (voluntarily or not) o have their identity become vulnerable.
The following graph shows the percentage of children that responded affirmatively to having been exposed, in the past 12 months, to any of the risks mentioned:
Online contact with strangers is the main risk that children have in all of the groups, particularly those who are between 15-16 years of age that are most exposed.
In the report, it is also mentioned that not all children are exposed to the same form or have the same risks. The more online experience they have, the better they are at handling it. What is important is that parents be alert to what their children are doing and that they are given necessary tools to carry themselves in an online environment.
Generally, children have a positive attitude in regards to parent restrictions, although a third say that sometimes they ignore what their parents say towards internet use. Parents who practice a more restrictive regulation have children that find less risks and damages but also less opportunities online.