Internet Safety: A Child’s Eye View

SHAILA on February 19, 2013

Child internet safety figures at the top of the Digital Agenda for Europe and this task will be carried out by the Commission through a Safer Internet Program until 2013.

The adult view of internet safety is all about protecting children from cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content. Few are aware that there are plenty of other online reasons that can affect kids. Violence, animal cruelties, even messages from divorced parents are some such issues that can evoke strong feelings, says a survey conducted by UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS).

RLJ Photography NYC / Foter.com / CC BY

The survey, pertaining to young British people and their internet usage, is proclaimed to be the biggest ever of its kind. It had 25 questions and about 24000 children answered it. The questions included one that asked what upset them the most when they went online. 18% of them said they felt fearful and upset while watching animal cruelty, for the footage was real, and 22% found age inappropriate explicit content disgusting.

Such a study was also carried out in 25 different European countries. 27% of children in Portugal felt strongly about violence and pornography; a figure much higher than  the European average of 20%.

Looking at these statistics, one fact that jumps out is that some children are more affected by online issues than others. Researchers from the EU Kids Online Project explain this difference as children who find it difficult to manage their emotions in the real world find it difficult to do so in the virtual world too. They arrived at this conclusion after questioning them about the 3 major online concerns like exposure to age inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and exchange of improper messages and videos. Confident children appeared to be much less bothered about these issues.

Based on these facts, we can safely conclude there is no one size fits all solution for protecting children online. A combination of methods like governmental curbs, use of internet safety tools, and creating a stable home environment are necessary. Security at the home front is especially important for it creates confident children who can handle any issue, whether offline or online.