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Net Children Go Mobile: Mobile Internet Use in a European Comparison

Net Children Go Mobile: Mobile Internet Use in a European Comparison

This project (www.netchildrengomobile.eu), which is funded by the EU Safer Internet Programme, analyses the use of mobile internet of children aged 9 to 16. Representative data from children using the internet was collected, and interviews with children, parents and pedagogues, were carried out in seven countries (Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom). In Spain and Germany, a qualitative sub study was conducted. The Hans-Bredow-Institut contributed with qualitative findings from the project “Mobile Internet Use in the Everyday Life of Children and Adolescents”.http://www.netchildrengomobile.eu

On average, children are twelve years old when they get their first smartphone. Most of the time, they use it at home, and using this device not only changes the frequency of communication with their friends; it also changes the way they communicate. Around three-fourths of adolescents feel that they have to be online all the time. Some have also had negative experiences with their smartphones. Comparing the data to the study on EU Kids Online shows, i.e., that experiences with cyber-bullying have increased from seven to 12 per cent.




 
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Project Description

This project (www.netchildrengomobile.eu), which is funded by the EU Safer Internet Programme, analyses the use of mobile internet of children aged 9 to 16.

Representative data from children using the internet was collected and interviews with children, parents and pedagogues were carried out in seven countries (Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom). In Spain and Germany, a qualitative sub-study was conducted. The project was coordinated by Giovanna Mascheroni of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

The quantitative study is based on answers from 3,500 internet users aged 9 to 16. The qualitative study includes 55 group interviews (N=219) and 107 one-on-one interviews with adolescents, as well as 40 group interviews (N=108) and 44 one-on-one interviews with parents and pedagogues. The survey focused on questions about
  • the kind of media devices they had,
  • how mobile media is used,
  • how the changes caused by mobile communication media are perceived,
  • what risks occur,
  • and how the topic is addressed in families and in school.
The close alignment to the survey instruments from the project EU Kids Online II provides data from 2013 that indicates trends compared with data from 2010 for the countries mentioned above.

A few selected findings:
  • Although tablets and smartphones enable children to use them independent of time and place, they use it mostly in their own room at home.
  • For the day-to-day internet use, children prefer using a laptop instead of their smartphone or tablet.
  • On average, children are twelve years old when they get their first smartphone. This is often linked to a certain event, such as transition to a secondary school, communion/confirmation or success in school.
  • Findings show that online services that provide the opportunity to network with others, to share or just to consume online content, have become more important compared to the data from the EU Kids Online study in 2010.
  • Smartphones not only change the possibilities from where and for how long children keep in touch with friends, they also change the range of communicative practices and public spheres with which they are in contact.
  • Regarding the risks, a comparison between 2010 and 2014 shows that the contact with negative user-generated content has increased. Especially the sharing of (self-)harming contents and offline contact with strangers has increased according to the interviewees.
  • Compared to 2010, experiences with cyber-bullying increased from 7 to 12 per cent. In 2010, children experienced more bullying offline than cyber-bulling; nowadays, they experience bullying more via digital media.
  • Two-thirds of the parents point out at least two ways of dealing with the mobile internet use of their children: 66% talk about using the internet with their children, 58% say that they are around when their children are online. 77% of the parents also say that they actively care about the safety of their children online, e.g. they explain to their children what websites are good or propose appropriate services
  • The older the children get, the fewer rules are set by their parents concerning mobile internet use. Most of the time, the rules refer to a time or a certain situation when to use the internet (e.g. not when eating together). Rules concerning the content are quite rare.
  • There are big differences between the countries regarding the use of smartphones and tablets at school. While using the internet or smartphones appears to be quite self-evident for Danish or Portuguese children, it is quite uncommon for Irish or Italian children.
The Hans-Bredow-Institut contributed qualitative findings to this study from the project “Mobile Internet Use in the Everyday Life of Children and Adolescents”. 
The findings of the international study are documented in Mascheroni/Cuman (2014) and on the website of the project: www.netchildrengomobile.eu
  • Mascheroni, G., Cuman, A. (2014):  Net Children Go Mobile: Final Report (with country fact sheets). Milano: Educatt.

Project Information

Overview

Duration: 2013-2015

Research programme:
RP3 - Knowledge for the Media Society

Involved persons

Dr. Claudia Lampert

Third party

Cooperation Partner

Dr. Giovianna Mascheroni, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italien

Contact person

Dr. Claudia Lampert
Senior Researcher Media Socialisation & Health Communication

Dr. Claudia Lampert

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 92
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

c.lampert@leibniz-hbi.de

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