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Third of children go online from bedroom

One in three Maltese children access the internet from their bedrooms and another 22 per cent from their study room, figures published in a new European study show.

The report found that about 54 per cent of children use the internet daily – 33 per cent of primary school children and 64 per cent of secondary school students.

Almost all secondary school students, 98 per cent, said they used it weekly.

The study was compiled by EU Kids Online, a pan-European research project with the most recent research on internet access and use by European children from 33 countries, associated risk and harm, and parental mediation and safety.

This is the first report which includes research data about Malta based on a 2010 study by the Malta Communications Authority.

The study was carried out by means of two questionnaires that targeted children aged between eight and 15 years and their parents or their guardians.

Almost 80 per cent said they used the internet for school-related research, while another 70 per cent use it for games. Another 66 per cent use it to access social networking sites.

When asked about safety, 85 per cent of children said they were “well aware ofthe risks posed to minors when using the internet”.

Another 62 per cent agreed that making friends over the internet was not safe while 66 per cent said posting photos on social networking sites might be dangerous. The majority of children, 76 per cent, said they were not willing to meet someone they made friends with over the internet.

Parents were asked whether they thought the internet was a safe place for their children. Under half, 40 per cent, said it was not safe and 19 per cent said it was.

Twenty-five per cent said they stayed next to their child when using the internet. Another 34 per cent said they restricted the time their child spent on the internet.

In its recommendations, the report called for more internet access in schools and the introduction of media literacy lessons in the curriculum to help students learn about the risks online and how to minimise harm.

Policymakers also should take note of the increased use of social networks and children’s increased access to the internet through mobile devices. Appropriate strategies should be adopted to deal with these developments, the report said.

Training for adults should not only consist of digital literacy skills but also how to mediate the children’s experience on the internet.

Policymakers should commission more research about internet use, online safety and risks associated with its use, the report said.

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