On November 4th, the multinational research network EU Kids Online published the final report of the research project that focussed on the opportunities and risks related to children’s internet use. Estonia was represented by the Institute of Social Studies of the University of Tartu.
The final project report involved more than 150 researchers and 33 countries.
“As a main conclusion, the report states that during 2011–2014, internet use patterns of European children have changed significantly. Children are using internet in more places in their daily lives, and new mobile devices have made children’s web use more private than ever before,” said Veronika Kalmus, the head of the Estonian project team at the University of Tartu.
Compared with 2010, European 11- to 16-year-olds are now more likely to be exposed to hate messages, pro-anorexia or self-harm websites and cyberbullying.
One main objective of the project has been to offer policy recommendations based on comprehensive research findings and to create a dialogue between stakeholders.
As main recommendations for parents, Veronika Kalmus emphasizes the following:
Support children’s exploration of the internet from an early age and inform yourselves about the benefits and the risks that the virtual world offers;
Focus on enhancing children’s online opportunities and coping skills;
Think less about risk and focus instead on positive content and engaging and fun activities;
Communicate regularly with children about what they may find problematic online;
Be clear and consistent about expectations and rules relating to children’s online behaviour.