Research: Estonian Children's Internet Usage Similar To Eastern and South-Western Europe
International research network EU Kids Online analysed Internet activities, related risks and parental guidance of 9- to 16-year-old children in 25 European states, dividing these states into four major groups. According to recent report that was prepared with the participation of the scientists of the University of Tartu, Estonian children are placed by their Internet usage to the same group with their Polish, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian and Cypriot coevals, being significantly different from the children in the Nordic countries.
Partially Guided Adventuresome Players
Estonian children and those in several Eastern and South-Western European countries are characterised by the major significance of online entertainment, especially games, relatively high scope of experiencing risks and damage, and major differences in parental guidance practices.
Veronika Kalmus, Professor of Media Studies, explains: “In comparison with previous analyses, this report underlines linkage patterns between the different facets of Internet usage. It meets the eye that a large part of Estonian children can upon wandering around in the Internet count on their parents' multilateral and active guidance; whereas about one third of parents are relatively passive.”
According to Kalmus, this may reflect social differences, lack of dialogue between parents and school, and that awareness-raising has not reached all target groups.
The rest of the states are divided into three groups. The children in four Scandinavian countries and Netherlands are characterised by higher than average usage of social networks, more frequent experience of Internet risks with sexual hint and more active parental guidance.
Also, the children in Lithuania, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia distinguish by the usage of social media and experiencing related risks, but their parents are significantly more passive upon guiding their children than in an average.
In large part of Western and Southern Europe states (Ireland, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Turkey), parents tend to limit and check the Internet activities of their children. Although it helps to avoid risks, it also limits children's capacity to participate in activities offered by the Internet.
Importance of Background
Network EU Kids Online stresses that differences between various states are still less significant than inside states. Although this recent report gives an overview of 25 European states' position in international comparison and enables to learn from best practices, it is still necessary to take into account the special cultural background of each state upon policy-making.
Additional information: Veronika Kalmus, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tartu, phone: 56 623 583, e-mail: veronika.kalmus [ät] ut.ee.