European survey on children’s online risk
One in five children have seen potentially dangerous internet content such as websites that promote anorexia and suicide techniques, and only 13 per cent of children who were upset after using the internet reported this through an online reporting mechanism.
These are two of the more important conclusions of a recent report from the pan-European ‘EU kids online’ project funded by the EC Safer Internet Programme and led by the London School of Economics.
The report, entitled ‘Towards a better internet for children’ is based on interviews with 25,000 children and parents in 25 European countries.
Malta was not part of this study phase but joined last year and will take part in the next phase of research.
Project coordinator Mary Anne Lauri said: “We need to discover more about what children in Malta are doing online and that is why we are participating”.
She added that the conclusions reached in other European countries highlight the importance of researching how Maltese children are using the internet to be able to understand their needs.
“Following in the footsteps of these European countries, we can then refer to industry and policy makers to urgently address these needs”, she said.
Parents’ top concerns about their children included school achievement, road accidents, bullying (on or offline) and crime.
Online risks such as being contacted by strangers or seeing inappropriate content, came fourth and fifth in the list of nine worries: one in three parents say they worry about these risks a lot. Fewer worry about alcohol, drugs, getting into trouble with the police and sexual activities.
Children reporting problems from online contacts were generally dissatisfied with the help available.
Those reporting sexual images were more positive about the help received than those reporting sexting and cyber-bullying.
The report is available at www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/EU%20Kids%20III/Reports/EUKidsOnlinereportfortheCEOCoalition.pdf.