EU children know Internet perils but unlikely to turn to parents: study

EU children know Internet perils but unlikely to turn to parents: study

Fri Aug 10, 9:42 AM ET

childrenknowsperils.jpgPupils work on computers at a Helsinki school in 2005. Children in
Europe are increasingly aware of the risks associated with using the
Internet but are unlikely to turn to their parents for advice if they
encounter difficulties, a new study shows.(AFP/Lehtikuva/File/Martti
Kainulainen)

Children in Europe are increasingly aware of the risks associated with
using the Internet but are unlikely to turn to their parents for advice
if they encounter difficulties, a new study shows.

The European Commission study of the cyber habits of 9-10 and 12-14
year olds, released Friday, shows that the use of Internet and mobile
phones has become "almost self-evident" for Europe’s young generation.

"In general, they also know the risks of using the Internet and
mobile phones. However, when facing trouble online, minors will ask an
adult only as a last resort," the Commission said in a statement.

"It is encouraging to see Europe’s youth embrace digital
technologies so confidently. The capability of making active use of new
media is key for the development of a knowledge-based society in
Europe," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information
Society and Media.

"At the same time, these survey results underline Europe’s need for
proactive online media education. We must also continue to raise
awareness about the opportunities and risks of new media, especially
among parents. Where the security of our children is at stake, there
can be no room for complacency," she added.

The report, conducted by the EU’s Eurobarometer agency, did not
find any huge difference in attitude to or use of the Internet in
European Union states.

Online gaming, surfing and communication are the top activities
online while texting, and talking with parents and friends came out top
for young mobile users.

However Reding’s spokesman Martin Selmayr said that there was a
larger minority of children in Bulgaria, Iceland and Greece who did not
have access to fast-speed Internet connections and so were not spending
time on computer games.

The nine-to-10-year-olds interviewed spent between half an hour and
one hour per day using the Internet and mobile phones, he said, while
the figure rose to one to three hours for the 12-14-year-olds.

In general mobile phone use was less monitored by parents than Internet use, he added.

The youngsters felt the main risk from Internet use was possible
contact with adult strangers, followed by the possibility of being hit
by a computer virus, a hacker or other programme which could effect the
computer.

In terms of site content they cited adult content such a pornography and violence as well as racist and neo-Nazi sites.

Many of them are also well aware of the necessary precautions they need to take.

"Don’t give your personal data on the Internet, nor your mobile
phone number to people you don’t know," a young teenager from
Luxembourg was quoted as saying in the report.

Some children nevertheless admitted that they had engaged in risky
behaviour, and some acknowledged that they had been victims of bullying
and had contacts with strangers.

"I met him at a station and then it was an old, nasty 44-year-old man. Then I walked away," said a Danish boy.

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