Nieuw UNICEF-rapport over kinderen online

Er is een nieuw UNICEF-rapport over het online leven van kinderen wereldwijd in samenwerking met Global Kids Online. In het rapport bekijkt men als pilot-studie specifiek naar kinderen in 4 landen, Argentinië, Servië, de Filipijnen en Zuid-Afrika.

Enkele opvallende algemene inzichten:

  • 1 op 3 gebruikers van het internet is een kind.
  • Voorlopig heeft 80% van de bevolking in de Westerse wereld toegang, maar slechts 25% in Azië en Afrika, maar dit verandert snel.

Specifiek voor deze studie:

  1. Children predominantly access the internet at home and through mobile devices
  • Children in all four countries report that they most frequently go online at home, with over 90 per cent in Argentina, Serbia and South Africa and 62 per cent in the Philippines. Access to the internet through schools is not as common, with children from Serbia accessing the internet only in 20
    per cent of the cases, while in other countries it ranged between 50-60 per cent. Not surprisingly, children use smartphones most to go online.
  • Mobile access may be positive in terms of flexibility of use, enhancing children’s opportunities for private or personalised benefits. But it can also reduce parents’ and caregivers’ chance to support children as they explore the internet. Moreover, the small screen limits the amount and complexity of content that can be readily viewed, and because of its privacy it may be associated with risk

2. The majority of children learn something new by searching the internet

  • Most children who use the internet say they learn something new online at least every week. In Argentina, it is common to look for information about work or study opportunities online, more so than in other countries. Around one third of children in Serbia, South Africa and the Philippines look for health information online at least every week.
  • It seems children are gaining information bene ts from internet access. However, more research is needed to know whether they have access to the range of high quality information that they may need, or whether they are successful in finding what is available.

3. Younger internet users lack the digital skills of their older peers

  • There is a clear age trend in all four countries in terms of children’s self-reported ability to check if information they nd online is true. Older children were more con dent in their ability to do so than younger children. This age trend, where younger children are less con dent in their ability than older children, applied to most digital skills in this study. Gender differences were not so prominent.
  • Access and skills are linked to opportunities and risks: in South Africa, for example, and especially the Philippines, younger children use the internet less, undertaking fewer online practices and developing fewer digital skills than children in Argentina or Serbia.

4. Younger children’s digital safety skills also need support

  • Most of the older children, but fewer younger children, report knowing how to manage their privacy settings online, a key indication of their digital and safety skills. Children in the Philippines report the least competence in this regard overall, especially among the youngest age group. Similar findings were obtained for children’s reported ability to remove people from their contact lists (on social networking sites, for example).
  • Digital skills also matter for parents – the parent survey in South Africa revealed that parents are about as skilled as their 12-14 year olds. This means that although parents may be able to adequately guide the youngest children as they go online and help them develop their digital skills, they may not have the knowledge and ability required to guide children as they get older.

5. A substantial minority of young internet users have had contact with unknown people online

  • Between 19 per cent (in the Philippines) and 41 per cent of children (in Serbia and South Africa) have been in touch online with somebody they have not met in person. These are not necessarily people without any prior connection to the child, and most children do not then go on to meet such a person face to face. Nonetheless, such activities clearly pose a risk of harm that merits awareness-raising and education, ideally without overly restricting children’s opportunity to explore the online world.

6. Argentinian children are most likely to report having been bothered or upset online in the past year

  • Between a fifth (in South Africa) and three-quarters (in Argentina) of children report feeling upset about something that happened online, with older children reporting more incidents.
  • The qualitative research and an open-ended survey question allowed children to describe the concerns about what bothers them online in their own words. Children mentioned a wide range of issues, including internet scams, pop-up adverts that were pornographic, hurtful behaviour, unpleasant or scary news or pictures, discrimination, harrassment or sexual harrassment by strangers and people sharing too much personal information online.

7. Countries vary in the amount of risks encountered and the balance with online opportunities

  • As many as one third of children in Serbia reported being treated in a hurtful way by their peers, online or offline, though in South Africa and the Philippines only a fifth said this had happened to them. Older children are more likely to report experiencing such behaviour. Smaller proportions also admit to treating others in hurtful ways.
  • The proportion of children who have seen sexual images during the past year ranges from about a third of all children in the Philippines to slightly over two-thirds in Argentina and Serbia. Boys and older teenagers are more likely to have seen such images. While online sources such as pop-ups and social networking sites account for a significant amount of this exposure, ‘traditional’ sources such as television or lm are also sources of potentially pornographic exposure.
  • Fewer than one in twenty children in the Philippines and South Africa reported some kind of online sexual solicitation – being asked for sexual information, to talk about sex or to do something sexual, although even these low numbers merit serious attention.
  • A child-rights approach seeks to consider the balance between risks and opportunities in the round. In this respect, the findings show large differences across countries. In Serbia, South Africa and the Philippines, most children considered the internet beneficial, although around a third had experienced something upsetting online in the past year. In Argentina, most children reported experiencing a problem online, matching the proportion who found the internet beneficial. It is indeed possible that there are more problems for children online in Argentina, but it is also possible that the internet is more familiar to Argentinian children and they encounter more risks because they explore the internet more widely.

8. Children are most likely to seek support from a friend, and rarely from a teacher

  • In all four countries the most common source of support is friends – between a third and two-thirds of children spoke to a friend the last time something upsetting happened online. The next most popular source of support is parents, followed by siblings. Few children confided in a teacher, and the follow-up survey questions suggested that few children had received e-safety or digital literacy teaching at school; more had received some guidance on internet use from their parents.
  • The qualitative research suggests that children make a judgement about whether the parent needs to get involved or whether the problem can be handled by talking to peers. In a sense, children mediate their own negative experiences, figuring out the best coping mechanism based on the situation as they see it.

Dat laatste is opvallend in zijn algemeenheid, omdat ik dit steeds weer in verschillende landen – ook bij ons – zie opduiken. Voorwaar een zeer belangrijk aandachtspunt…

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