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Study: Most children in Indonesia are online now, but many are not aware of potential risks

 JAKARTA, 18 February 2014 – The vast majority of children and adolescents in Indonesia now access the internet regularly to seek information for their studies, to engage with friends and to entertain themselves. Many, however, are not aware of potential risks involved when sharing personal data and meeting strangers online. And like in many other countries, a significant number of children in Indonesia have become victims of cyberbullying.

These are the findings of the study “Digital Citizenship Safety among Children and Adolescents in Indonesia”, released on Tuesday in Jakarta. The study was commissioned by UNICEF as part of its multi-country project on Digital Citizenship and Safety, and conducted by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. The study covers the age group 10 to 19 years, a huge population of 43.5 million children and adolescents. 

“Today, it is almost impossible to draw a line between online and offline. In many aspects, the virtual world has become the real world,” said UNICEF Representative Angela Kearney during the launch of the study. “Children have a right to information and to express their views and concerns, and the internet provides them with enormous opportunities to realize these rights. The overlap between online and offline, however, also means that children may be exposed to similar risks like in the physical world, such as violence and abuse, including sexual exploitation, and trafficking. We need to find the right balance between the chances and the risks in the digital world.”

Most of the respondents (80%) use the internet to look for data and information, particularly for school assignments, or to meet friends online (70%) through social media platforms. Another large group clicks through to music (65%) or video (39%) sites. 

According to the findings, around 80% of children and adolescents use the internet, and most of them go online every day or at least once a week.  The study however reveals a significant digital divide between different regions of the country. While in Jakarta and in the Yogyakarta Special Region, almost all respondents are internet-users, the percentage drops down to less than a third in North Maluku and West Papua. The majority of non-users has no access to a computer, lives in an area without internet services or cannot afford the costs associated with going online. 

 “Advances in information and communication technology should be utilized for the welfare of the community. Technologic is a tool to support an intelligent and advanced nation. The Internet can provide great benefits for education, research, commerce, and other aspects of life. We should encourage children and adolescents to use the Internet as an important tool for education, increasing knowledge, opportunities and a better quality of life,” said Tifatul Sembiring, Minister of Communication and Information Technology. 

Many children still use a computer (69%) or a laptop (34%) to access the internet, however mobile phones and smartphones play an increasingly important role (52%), with children and adolescents being the main drivers of this shift.  According to Roy Morgan Research, smartphone ownership in Indonesia doubled between 2012 and 2013 to 24%. 

Almost nine in ten children (89%) communicate online with friends while smaller groups also interact with their family (56%) or their teachers (35%) via the internet, and the topics most discussed have to do with school activities. 

However, a significant group (24%) also gets in touch with people they do not know. A similar percentage (25%) shares their addresses and telephone numbers, which reveals a critical lack of awareness about potential risks among young internet users in Indonesia. 

Of particular concern is the relatively high percentage of children who have become victims of cyberbullying. Only 42% of respondents are aware of the risk of being bullied online, and among those 13% have become victims during the previous three months, which translates into thousands of children. Examples mentioned by respondents include name-calling and being ridiculized because of the work of their parents (e.g. farmers or fishermen) or their physical appearance, or even being threatened online. 

More than half of children and adolescents (52%) say they have come across pornographic content through advertisements or non-suspicious links, however only 14% acknowledge to have accessed porn-sites voluntarily.  

Based on the findings, the study recommends the development of information campaigns on digital safety to raise awareness among children and their parents about the potential of the internet as a source of information and empowerment as well as about the risks involved when sharing personal data with strangers or accessing harmful sites. When designing such campaigns, the study underlines, children and young people need to be involved to ensure messages are relevant and effective. 

The study further appeals to parents and teachers to accompany and supervise children on their digital journey and to help develop safety programmes. According to the findings, while providing children with access to the internet, many schools do not establish any rules in terms of time online or content that can be accessed. This is particularly true for public schools (only 25% impose limitations), but also for private schools (42% have restrictions). 


Methodology

The research was carried out in 2011 and 2012 and involved a representative sample of 400 children and adolescents from urban and rural areas in 11 provinces. Further to this, focus group discussions were organized in Medan, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Balikpapan and Jayapura. In addition to this, the researchers organized an online survey at the end of 2012/beginning 2013 through Facebook and Kaskus. 


For further information:

Nuraini Razak, UNICEF Indonesia, nrazak@unicef.org, mobile: +628119201654

 

 
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