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Kids online

Kids online: Opportunities and risks for children

Sonia Livingstone
Leslie Haddon
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    Kids online
    Book Description:

    As the internet and new online technologies are becoming embedded in everyday life, there are increasing questions about their social implications and consequences. Children, young people and their families tend to be at the forefront of new media adoption but they also encounter a range of risky or negative experiences for which they may be unprepared, which are subject to continual change. This book captures the diverse, topical and timely expertise generated by the EU Kids Online project, which brings together 70 researchers in 21 countries across Europe. Each chapter has a distinct pan-European focus resulting in a uniquely comparative approach.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-734-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Sonia Livingstone and Leslie Haddon

    Few issues in the past decade have so dominated the headlines or captured the public imagination as that of children as online pioneers, in the vanguard of exploring and experimenting with new opportunities on the internet. Although many adults are also online, and although parents make considerable efforts to keep up with their children, it may seem that, one decade after gaining accessen masseto online technologies, children and young people are living in a different world from that familiar to the adults who are bringing them up, teaching them what they need to know and designing policies to...

  7. Section I: Researching European children online

    • TWO What we know, what we do not know
      (pp. 19-30)
      Verónica Donoso, Kjartan Ólafsson and Thorbjörn Broddason

      The assumption that young people are more future-oriented, more apt and more technologically aware and interested than adults (Rushkoff, 1996) is not new. To some extent, it is believed that young people’s early adoption of and adaptation to new media and technologies such as the internet are mainly the result of the inherent interest adolescents are assumed to have in new technologies as well as their massive use in formal educational settings (Lee, 2005). This group, ‘the Net generation’ as dubbed by Tapscott (1998), is important because, even though they may actually represent the future and, in fact, be ‘the...

    • THREE Research with children
      (pp. 31-40)
      Bojana Lobe, José Alberto Simões and Bieke Zaman

      This chapter untangles the ways in which young audiences, especially digital media and internet users, have been researched and how they can be approached. The first part is a brief discussion of the policy concept ‘children and young people’, since it has clear implications for how the research agenda is defined. The second part examines different theoretical approaches to the problem of whether children should be directly involved in research projects or not. In other words, should we be doing researchwithoronchildren? This distinction is important not only from a practical point of view but also from...

    • FOUR Opportunities and pitfalls of cross-national research
      (pp. 41-54)
      Uwe Hasebrink, Kjartan Ólafsson and Václav Štětka

      Looking beyond national borders for comparative purposes has a long tradition in the history of social science research, and can be traced back to early social scientists such as Max Weber and Émile Durkheim. And a discussion of the methodology of cross-national comparison is not an entirely new phenomenon (Rokkan, 1968). However, it has only been in the last couple of decades that cross-national (or cross-cultural) comparative research has really gained in popularity in the social sciences (Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Harkness, 2005). Among processes that have contributed to this trend, we can certainly name the gradual internationalisation of the academic community...

    • FIVE Cultures of research and policy in Europe
      (pp. 55-68)
      Leslie Haddon and Gitte Stald

      Europe is traditionally regarded as a cultural entity with shared historical roots, values, systems and institutions. At a meta-level this provides a shared point of departure within and outside Europe. However, Kevin (2003: 2) notes that ‘definitions of Europe cannot logically be confined to specific political, cultural, or geographic descriptions’. When considering the various levels on which Europe may be understood, one must note that the European Union (EU) is more integrated at the political and economic levels than in terms of culture and traditions. Bondebjerg and Golding discuss the elements of a perceived European common culture thus:

      All accounts...

  8. Section II: Going online:: new opportunities?

    • SIX Opportunities and benefits online
      (pp. 71-82)
      Veronika Kalmus, Pille Runnel and Andra Siibak

      The internet and other online technologies provide children across Europe with a range of opportunities and benefits. The main opportunities can be classified into four categories: education, learning and digital literacy; participation and civic engagement; creativity and self-expression; and identity and social connection (Livingstone and Haddon, 2009; and see Chapter One, this volume). Research evidence suggests that adults and children agree that children use the internet mostly as an educational resource, for entertainment, games and fun, for searching for global information and for social networking and sharing experiences with distant others (Hasebrink et al, 2009).

      The question about children’s opportunities...

    • SEVEN Adolescents and social network sites: identity, friendships and privacy
      (pp. 83-94)
      Jochen Peter, Patti M. Valkenburg and Cédric Fluckiger

      In the past five years, many European teenagers have started to use social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. Social networking sites can be defined as ‘web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system; (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection; and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system’ (boyd and Ellison, 2007: 211). While the specific social networking sites that are most popular among teenagers differ across European countries, their most important common...

    • EIGHT Young people online: gender and age influences
      (pp. 95-106)
      Helen McQuillan and Leen d’Haenens

      Digital technologies and their use among children and young people in Europe have become increasingly more complex and pervasive (Livingstone and Bovill, 2001; Larsson, 2003; Lenhart, 2005). Numerous studies show that young people are far from homogeneous, yet age and gender continue to be particularly strong predictors of patterns of use (Wartella et al, 2000). Age differences are usually supposed to be linear: with age one tends to engage in more online opportunities and in more risky behaviour. Gender differences are commonly supposed to be strong but unpredictable (Weiser, 2000). The gender picture becomes more complex when one compares young...

    • NINE Digital divides
      (pp. 107-120)
      Panayiota Tsatsou, Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt and Maria Francesca Murru

      Since the mid-1990s there has been an increasing interest in the nature and extent of digital divides, and in academic circles the term itself has gradually given way to that of ‘digital inclusion’. In the mid-1990s the ‘digital divide’ has been seen in terms of a dichotomy between the ‘information haves’ and the ‘information have-nots’ (Wresch, 1996), or, in economic terms, the ‘information poor’ and the ‘information rich’ (Webster, 1995). One of the first theorisations of digital divides was based on diffusion theory (Rogers, 1995). It argued that the acquisition of and access to computers and internet equipment is a...

  9. Section III: Going online:: new risks?

    • TEN Risky contacts
      (pp. 123-134)
      Marika Hanne Lüders, Petter Bae Brandtzæg and Elza Dunkels

      One of the anxieties regarding children’s internet use relates to the potential for risky contacts (see, for example, EC, 2008). This chapter critically reviews the latest findings and theories on children’s risky contacts with adults and children – grooming, harassment and meetings – in order to identify who is really at risk from what. Two primary types of risks will be discussed: children and young people as victims of aggressive communication and as victims of sexually oriented communication. This discussion will expand our current understanding of both media and social psychological dimensions of the misuse and abuse of the internet,...

    • ELEVEN Inappropriate content
      (pp. 135-146)
      Thomas Wold, Elena Aristodemou, Elza Dunkels and Yiannis Laouris

      Use of the internet and its associated services is becoming an increasingly popular pastime, particularly among children and young people, but despite the many benefits offered there are also risks which they must be made aware of. The possibility that children could encounter inappropriate content online receives less public attention than the risk that they may make risky contact with people met online, and the range of content that is of potential concern is vast, including pornography, racist material, violent and gruesome content, self-harm sites (including pro-anorexia and pro-suicide sites), commercially exploitative material and more. The European Commission (EC) supports...

    • TWELVE Problematic conduct: juvenile delinquency on the internet
      (pp. 147-158)
      Elisabeth Staksrud

      Children’s participation in the internet revolution is regularly touted as a mixture of societal progress and an invitation to predatory adults and digital criminals. The idea that children can be active participants in a negative sense through illegal or deviant behaviour has received little attention from policy makers, awareness raisers and researchers, although issues such as ‘digital bullying’, ‘happy slapping’ and the illegal downloading of music and movies are starting to creep into the public – and official – consciousness. This chapter therefore focuses on children as online delinquents, activelyproducingonline risks, such as illegal or undesired online content...

    • THIRTEEN Children and the internet in the news: agency, voices and agendas
      (pp. 159-172)
      Cristina Ponte, Joke Bauwens and Giovanna Mascheroni

      From both historical and theoretical perspectives, many have argued that media representations provide significant symbolic resources for the construction of public and political agendas and that dominant media frames are powerful in defining social problems and shaping public discourses (Griswold, 1994; Critcher, 2003; Kitzinger, 2004). When it comes to young people’s engagement with the internet and how society is dealing with this, the interconnection and congruence among the public, policy and research agendas are noticeable.

      Based on a systematic content analysis of news coverage in European papers, this chapter examines how the press reports children’s positive and risky or harmful...

    • FOURTEEN The role of parental mediation in explaining cross-national experiences of risk
      (pp. 173-184)
      Bojana Lobe, Katia Segers and Liza Tsaliki

      The range and incidence of risks experienced by children online varies cross-nationally, although the overall rank ordering of more or less common risks is fairly consistent (Hasebrink et al, 2009). The reasons why countries vary in online risk experience and risk perception have recently attracted concern from different academic disciplines, such as media studies and consumer research (Livingstone and Bovill, 2001; Park and Jun, 2003; Mediappro, 2006; SAFT, 2006; Livingstone and Haddon, 2008). Some authors state that challenges lay in the form of having a different primary target and a different working style in each country (for example SAFT, 2006:...

  10. Section IV: Policy implications

    • FIFTEEN Maximising opportunities and minimising risks for children online
      (pp. 187-198)
      Jos de Haan

      New and increasingly interactive technologies provide opportunities for children and young people to communicate personal textual and visual information in publicly accessible and searchable online spaces. These new uses not only potentially promote sociability, self-confidence and identity formation, they may also expose children and young people to a variety of risks to their physical and psychological well-being (Hasebrink et al, 2009). In the European Union (EU), several measures have been deployed to promote safer use of the internet by children and young people, often inspired or driven by the Safer Internet Action Plan (1999-2004), Safer Internet Plus Programme (2005-08) or...

    • SIXTEEN Parental mediation
      (pp. 199-216)
      Lucyna Kirwil, Maialen Garmendia, Carmelo Garitaonandia and Gemma Martínez Fernández

      Parental mediation of children’s use of the internet involves the regulation of children’s internet use by parents in order to maximise benefits and, in particular, to minimise the potential negative impacts of the internet on children (Livingstone, 2007; Livingstone and Helsper, 2008). The notion originates in socialisation theory that refers to the parent–child relationship as a developmental process and envisions the parental mediation of internet use through regulatory strategies that parents introduce to maximise benefits and minimise risks for their children (Kirwil, 2009a). Therefore, parental mediation of children’s use of the internet involves various child-rearing strategies and practices guided...

    • SEVENTEEN Making use of ICT for learning in European schools
      (pp. 217-228)
      Ingrid Paus-Hasebrink, Andrea Dürager, Christine W. Wijnen and Kadri Ugur

      Across Europe, the internet is an integral part of the lives of young people. According to the latest Eurobarometer survey on safer internet issues, three quarters of all children between 6 and 17 years in the EU27 had used the internet as of autumn 2008, with even higher figures applying to teenagers (EC, 2008: 5). There are great similarities from one country to another concerning the time spent online.

      Young people use the internet mainly as an educational resource, for entertainment, games and fun, searching for information, social networking and sharing experiences with others (Hasebrink et al, 2009). They also...

    • EIGHTEEN Media literacy
      (pp. 229-240)
      Brian O’Neill and Ingunn Hagen

      Across Europe and beyond, the promotion of media literacy for both children and adults has acquired an important public urgency. Traditional literacy is no longer seen to be sufficient for participation in today’s society. Citizens need to be media literate, it is claimed, to enable them to cope more effectively with the flood of information in today’s highly mediated societies. As teachers, politicians and policy makers everywhere struggle with this rapid shift in media culture, greater responsibility is placed on citizens for their own welfare in the new media environment. Media literacy is therefore all the more essential in enabling...

    • NINETEEN Conclusion
      (pp. 241-252)
      Sonia Livingstone and Leslie Haddon

      After the first decade or so of research, what do we now know about children and young people online? The number and range of empirical studies of children and the internet has increased steadily over recent years, although many studies are largely descriptive – charting statistics on access, use and activities online. One theoretically informed strand of research draws on the tradition of studying children and television, extending knowledge of children’s engagement with a dominant, usually national mass medium to their activities in the globalised digital age. Another strand of research seeks to position the internet within the wider context...

  11. APPENDIX A: List of country codes
    (pp. 253-253)
  12. APPENDIX B: Children and parents online, by country
    (pp. 254-256)
  13. APPENDIX C: The EU Kids Online network
    (pp. 257-262)
  14. Index
    (pp. 263-272)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 273-273)