Children in Europe are on average
starting to use the Internet at the age of 7 but only one in three 9-12
year olds feel that there are enough "good things for kids" of their age
online, according to a pan-European survey published by the European
Commission. The study also shows that one in eight children have
upsetting experiences online and they still lack skills and confidence
using Internet. To help deal with these problems, the Commission has
launched a competition to encourage the creation of online high quality
content for children. The Commission is committed to helping parents and
their children keep safe online as part of the Digital Agenda for
Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, said: “Children
start going online younger and younger, and we need to make sure they
are confident online, and that they can find exciting, safe, educational
and age-appropriate content as they surf the web".
Children online longer and younger
are going online younger than ever, according to the survey. Children
now aged 15 to 16 first used the Internet when they were 11, while 9-10
year olds declared that they first used the Internet when they were 7.
There are also differences between countries: children go online the
earliest in the Nordic countries, Estonia, The Netherlands and UK and
later in Austria, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Romania. Half of children
go online daily for an average of one and a half hours. 15-16 year olds
are even more active Internet users, with 77% going online daily.
Children in the survey say they use the Internet primarily for school work or watching videos (84% and 83% respectively). Playing games (74%) and communicating via instant messaging (61%) are the next most popular activities online.
go online mainly at home (85%), with more than half of 13-16 year olds
accessing the Internet in their bedroom. School is the second most
common place to access the Internet (63%). While most children go online
via PCs or laptops, one out of three youngsters now connect via their
mobile phones or other portable devices.
Online risks falling but children still lack basic safety skills
survey also shows that children face fewer risks online than previous
surveys have shown. 5% of children in Europe say that they have been
bullied online, with a high of 14% in Estonia and Romania. However, one in eight have been bothered or upset by something they found online.
the same time, the report shows that although adults may consider
children to be "digital natives”, half of younger children lack basic
safety skills such as knowing how to set privacy settings or block
of 11-16 year olds have experienced symptoms linked to excessive
Internet use, such as surfing the Internet when they are not really
interested, spending less time with friends, family or doing schoolwork
because of time spent online or feeling irritated when they cannot be
online. The EU's Safer Internet Programme will co-fund a project to better understand this problem in 2011.
Promoting innovative and age-appropriate content
The European Commission and Safer Internet Centres in 14 countries have just announced a competition for the European Award for Best Children's Online Content.
This is open to producers of online content in two categories: 12-17
years old and adults and seeks to stimulate the production and
dissemination of high quality online content appropriate for children
and young people. It takes place in 14 countries: Belgium, the Czech
Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, The
Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. The winners of both
categories in the national competitions will compete for the European
Award, which will be presented in June 2011.
EUKidsOnline survey was conducted with more than 23 000 children and
one of their parents in the following countries: Austria, Belgium,
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands,
Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and
UK. The survey is part of the EUKidsOnline II project, funded by the
Safer Internet Programme and coordinated by the London School of
Economics and Political Science.
Commission has brokered self-regulatory agreements with some of the main
providers of online services that are most popular among younger
generations (social networks, mobile phone operators) (see IP/10/144).
Further development of self-regulatory measures regarding online safety
for children is being considered as part of the Digital Agenda policy
to build trust and security in new technologies.
2009 the European Commission supported a campaign against cyberbullying
in all EU Member States run by the INSAFE network of awareness centres
(MEMO/09/58). The INSAFE network has also set up help-lines where
children, parents and teachers can ask for personalised advice on safety
issues, including cyberbullying.