EU Kids Online, an international network funded by the EU Safer Internet Programme has published a report on the behaviour of children online that takes a look at industry strategies compared to what children actually do while on the Internet.
Do strategies of protecting minors online work?
EU Kids Online’s task is to map European children’s and parents’ changing experience of the internet, focusing on uses, activities, risks and safety, while sustaining an active dialogue with national and European policy stakeholders.
Previous reports by EU Kids Online have already shown that children are using social networks at a younger age and that they are unaware of basic privacy risks connected with such use.
The 2012 report entitled ‘Towards a better internet for children‘ now surveys the strategies used by the industry to protect young users from online risk and examines whether there is evidence that these strategies work and reduce the online risks and harm experienced by children.
The report is based on interviews with 25,000 children and parents across 25 European countries.
Children rarely get help from online services
The results of surveys conducted are not encouraging: one in five children is reported to have seen potentially dangerous content on the Internet, however only one in ten children upset with something online had reported it through an online reporting mechanism. This indicates that the web industry has to focus more on child-friendly communication and accessible tools, warns EU Kids Online.
The report shows that 21% of 11 to 16 year olds have seen potentially harmful user-generated Internet content such as hate sites. In addition, 14% of 9 to 16 year olds have seen sexual images online, with 32% of such children upset by what they saw. Among 11 to 16 year olds upset by online sexual imagery only 13% reported the inappropriate content, while the majority, 26% just hoped the problem would go away by itself.
At the same time, children reporting problems online were not entirely satisfied with the help received from online services, with one third of children who reported problematic content or conduct not finding the response helpful.