Internet savvy? Children and online risk
Network Insight Institute
Faculty of Education and Arts
Communication and Arts, Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : DP110100864
Over the past five years there has been an explosion of research into the risks that (particularly) children run when they interact online. EU Kids Online I ran from 2006–09 and assessed over 400 studies drawn from 21 EU countries before moving into a new phase (EU Kids Online II) with comparative research across 25 European nations with a budget of 2.5M Euro. In the United States, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force deliberated throughout 2008 before issuing a final report at the end of that year which particularly addresses the risks run by children’s activities on Social Network Sites such as Facebook. In Australia, the major ACMA report on Media and Communications in Australian Families (2007) has been supplemented by four shorter research reports considering specific aspects of media use by young people and in family groups; and three annual reports examining online risk and safety more broadly (2008, 2009 and 2010). This research indicates that children’s risk taking is across a range of contexts; deemed by the EU Kids network to encompass Content, Contact, Conduct risks. Risk taking varies with gender and age, and with the relative prevalence and uptake of the internet in the society concerned. Not all risk confers harm, however, and as well as reviewing key aspects of the research discussed here, the paper suggests that policy makers also have a responsibility to address children’s perceptions of discomfort and harm as a result of their internet activities, and their coping strategies and relative resilience. Since this paper was proposed the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation has commissioned research to parallel EU Kids Online II, which will allow some benchmarking across 26 nations, including Australia.