Since 2010, time spent daily online has almost doubled among children in many European countries. And for most children in Europe, the smartphone is the preferred means of going online, enabling “anywhere, anytime” connectivity. These results may not come as a great surprise to many. Considerable country differences may instead offer new insights. According to the 2020 EU Kids online survey, more than half of the children use social networking sites on a weekly basis in most countries, whereas in other countries, four out of ten children never or hardly ever visit a social networking site.
In the recently released report from the EU Kids Online project, the findings from a survey of children aged 9–16 years from 19 European countries – Finland and Norway among them – and their use of the internet and digital technology are presented.
The report aims to map different aspects of young people’s online use and centres around four main areas: access, practice and skills, risks and opportunities and social context. Whereas access focuses on how children go online and for how long, for example which devices they use to go online, practice and skills describes what they do, for example which services they use and if they have enough skills to understand and use the internet for their benefit.
The area of risks and opportunities deals with negative and positive experiences such as online aggression, cyberbullying and seeing potentially harmful content, meeting new people and preferences for communication online. Social context refers to, for example, parental mediation and support for safe use but also “reverse mediation”, when children help their parents with difficulties they encounter in their online use.
Similarities and differences to previous survey
The report is a follow up of the EU Kids Online 2010 survey, where children in 25 European countries and their parents participated. The unique 2010 survey had a great impact on policy and prevention work on both national and international levels, providing enhanced knowledge and better insight into children’s technology use and online experiences.
The 2020 survey partially followed the 2010 edition. However, since significant changes occurred during the time period, such as the increased access and use of smartphones and fast mobile internet, adjustments of the questionnaire were required. Other changes to consider regard new services, such as Instagram and TikTok, used by young people and the development of touch-screen devices enabling internet use at earlier ages. Possibilities for direct comparison with the 2010 data are limited.
The thorough report (156 pages) comprises country profiles of the 19 participating countries; 12 of these also participated in the 2010 survey. Since there was no central funding body, the methodology used varies among the participating countries. Hence, the report focuses on basic descriptive results of questions used in all countries participating in the survey.
Further on shorter reports will be available on the EU Kids Online website (www.eukidsonline.net), presenting more in-depth results in selected areas.
Source: Smahel, D., Machackova, H., Mascheroni, G., Dedkova, L., Staksrud, E., Ólafsson, K., Livingstone, S., & Hasebrink, U. (2020). EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries. EU Kids Online. London: London School of Economics and Political Science. https://www.doi.org/10.21953/lse.47fdeqj01ofo