EU Kids Online - Final Report

This project examined European research on cultural, contextual and risk issues in children's safe use of the internet and new media across 21 countries. All project outputs and reports are posted on the related website. Also provided is a searchable database of European research on children's experience online, best practice research FAQs and resources for researching children's internet use.

Findings

  • Children’s use of the internet continues to grow. Striking recent rises are evident among younger children, in countries which have recently entered the EU, and among parents. This last reverses the previous trend for teenagers especially to outstrip adults in internet use. Long-standing gender inequalities may be disappearing, though socio-economic inequalities persist in most countries.
  • Across Europe, despite some cross-national variation, available findings suggest that for online teenagers, the rank ordering of risks experienced is fairly similar. Giving out personal information is the most common risky behaviour, followed by encountering pornography online, then by seeing violent or hateful content. Being bullied online comes fourth, followed by receiving unwanted sexual comments. Meeting an online contact offline appears the least common though arguably the most dangerous risk.
  • Even though higher status parents are more likely than those of lower socio-economic status to provide their children with access to the internet, it seems that the children from lower status homes are more exposed to risk online. There are also gender differences in risk, with boys more likely to encounter (or create) conduct risks and with girls more affected by content and contact risks.
  • Countries were classified by degree of children’s internet use and degree of risk online. The classification of countries as ‘high risk’ (ie, above the European average), ‘medium risk’ (ie, around the European average) or ‘low risk’ (ie, below the European average) is a relative judgement based on findings in the available studies reviewed in Hasebrink et al (2009). This suggests a positive correlation between use and risk: Northern European countries tend to be ‘high use, high risk’; Southern European countries tend to be ‘low use, low risk’; and Eastern European countries tend to be ‘new use, new risk'.