The key findings of the EU kids survey on risks and safety on the internet
Here are the key findings of the The EU Kids Online survey – a survey that asked 23,420 children aged 9-16 who use the internet about the following online risks:
receiving sexual messages,
contact with people not known face to face,
offline meetings with online contacts,
potentially harmful user-generated content and
personal data misuse.
12% of European 9-16 year olds say that they have been bothered or upset by something on the internet. This includes 9% of 9-10 year olds. However, most children do not report being bothered or upset by going online.
Looking across the range of risks included in the survey (as detailed below), a minority of European 9-16 year olds – 39% overall – have encountered one or more of these risks. Most risks are encountered by less than a quarter of children – as reported under specific findings below.
The most common risks reported by children online are communicating with new people not met face-toface and seeing potentially harmful user-generated content. It is much rarer for children to meet a new online contact offline or be bullied online.
Significantly, risk does not often result in harm, as reported by children. Being bullied online by receiving nasty or hurtful messages is the least common risk but is most likely to upset children.
Sexual risks – seeing sexual images and receiving sexual messages online – are more encountered but they are experienced as harmful by few of the children who are exposed to them.
1 in 12 children have met an online contact offline; this risk rarely has a harmful experience.
Comparing across countries, encounters with one or more online risks include up to two thirds of children in Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Sweden. Lower incidence of risk is found in Turkey, Portugal and Italy. However, children are more likely to say they have been bothered or upset by something on the internet in Denmark (26%), Estonia (25%), Romania and Sweden (both 21%); they are less likely to say this in Italy (6%), Portugal (7%) and Germany (8%).
The more children in a country use the internet daily, the more those children have encountered one or more risks. However, more use also brings more opportunities and, no doubt, more benefits. The greatest range of activities online is also claimed by children in Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Sweden, while the least are undertaken in Turkey and Ireland. In other words, internet use brings both risks and opportunities, and the line between them is not easy to draw.
Since most children do not report encountering any of the risks asked about, with even fewer having been bothered or upset by their online experiences, future safety policy should target resources and guidance where they are particularly needed – especially for younger children who go online.
Among those children who have experienced one of these risks, parents often don’t realise this: 41% of parents whose child has seen sexual images online say that their child has not seen this; 56% of parents whose child has received nasty or hurtful messages online say that their child has not; 52% of parents whose child has received sexual messages say that their child has not; 61% of parents whose child has met offline with an online contact say that their child has not. Although the incidence of these risks affects a minority of children in each case, the level of parental underestimation is more substantial.
Education, Research & Development in Social Work & IT
After working as an alternative practitioner and psychotherapist in private practice for nearly ten years I stepped over to higher education in 2005. At Saxion University of Applied Sciences I lecture and do research and development in the area of Social Work, Psychology and IT. Currently I'm focussing on merging mobile technology and social work.