EU focus: Children and the new media

Estonia and four Nordic countries participate in a European research project on children and the new media. Through registration and examination of research results from 18 European countries, the project aims to formulate recommendations for children’s online safety, media literacy and awareness.
What risks are children and young Internet users facing today? How competent are our children in handling the risks? In what way do cultural and social factors affect children’s awareness of and their responses to different risks? And what can existing European research in this field tell us about these issues today? These are among the key questions of the European project EU Kids Online in which Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland are involved. The project runs until 2009.

– A 2006 SAFT inquiry (Safer Internet Plus program) showed that Danish, Norwegian and Irish children have become more critical towards the Internet, and reveal less personal information than they did three years earlier, says Gitte Stald at the University of Copenhagen. –But we still don’t know how often children get exposed to racism and violent content on the Internet, and we know little about the affect commercial interests have on young Internet users’ interaction, and their decision-making on line.

The project EU Kids Online collects and compares former research results from 18 European countries on children’s Internet habits and their awareness of risks and different behaviours online. The project also aims to identify areas where further research is needed. Finally, it will examine methodological issues relating to cross-cultural analyses and the study of children’s online experience in order to develop a best practice guide to research.