A new study of Australian children’s (9-16 years old) online activities and experiences has found that they are among the youngest and most prolific users of the Internet in the world.
Four hundred children and their carers were interviewed in a first-of-its-kind study and results were compared to a parallel 25-nation European study. The full report “Risk and safety for Australian children on the Internet is available at http://cultural-science.org/journal/index.php/culturalscience/article/view/49/129
Here’s a round-up of results that reveal some valuable information about risks, successes, and future directions for teachers and parents in helping kids stay safe online.
- Australian children start cruising the Internet before they turn 8, making them among the youngest first-time users
- 76% of Aussie (AU) children go online everyday, they average just under 100 minutes/day
- 3 in 5 AU children go online via mobile devices
- parental involvement in online use and safety was higher than in Europe, still 46% of AU kids go online in their bedroom or other private room and over two thirds (70%) use the Internet at a friend’s house
- 30% of AU children reported encountering something upsetting online. These were more likely to be reported by younger children. The good news is they are reporting these incidents.
- Teachers were found to be very active in guiding children’s internet use and Australian students were more likely to speak to their teachers about how to stay safe online than others in the study
- 2/3 of AU children have their own social networking site
- Most AU children are taking steps to protect their online identities. Only 9% had their social network profiles set to public as compared with 26% across Europe
- Australian children were half as likely as EU students to meet up with someone they’d met over the Internet
- AU students are actively creating and contributing content including videos, music and photos.
The authors of this study noted that risks and significant benefits go hand-in-hand when using the Internet (86% of children’s online activity was learning related). They highlighted the importance of continued support for children using the internet and cautioned against being overly restrictive.