Estonian Youth Top European 'Excessive Internet Use' Survey

Photo: AFP/Scanpix
11/19/2012 12:05 PM
Category: Society

A newly-published study of 11- to 16-year-olds in 25 European countries has found that those in Estonia were the most likely to exhibit at least one indicator of what it calls excessive Internet use.

Compiled by EU Kids Online, an academic network that researches how children use new media, the survey asked respondents whether they had experienced any of five warning signs: having tried unsuccessfully to spend less time on the Internet, spending less time than they should with family or friends or doing schoolwork, catching themselves surfing when not really interested, feeling bothered when they cannot be on the Internet and going without eating or sleeping because of the Internet.

The portion of Estonian children who answered yes to at least one of the questions was the highest - 49 percent - compared to the European average of 28 percent.

The report's authors pointed out, however, that the result does not necessarily mean that Estonia is raising a generation of net junkies.

"This is mostly ‘surfing the internet when not really interested’ and responding positively to this one item does not mean that children are at risk," the report said.

Veronika Kalmus, a professor of media research at the University of Tartu who contributed to the report, told Postimees that 30 percent of the Estonian respondents admitted to the abovementioned idle surfing.

"This may indicate a lack of alternative activities or interests. On the other hand, one in five [Estonian] children had tried unsuccessfully to limit the time they were spending on the internet," she said.

Only 1 percent in Europe answered yes to all five warning sign questions. 

The survey found that the highest level of "pathological use" was in Cyprus, where 5 percent of children said they had experienced all five components of "excessive use."

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