Children Online – Opportunities, Risks and Safety
Montenegro country report July, 2016.
Internet is deep-seated in children’s everyday life in Montenegro. As high as 91% of the children 9 to 17 years-old use the internet, and most of them, 87% are online every day. Internet usage increases as children grow older, so that 97% of youngsters aged 15 to 17 use the internet every day, and 71% several times each day.
Children recognise a wide range of opportunities the internet is offering, but they use it by far most often for entertainment and social relationships on social networks. For example, 65% of children reported that they visited a social network every day (or several times a day), while just one third reported to have used the internet daily to learn something new by searching online, and every fourth respondent that he/she used it daily for school work.
Smartphone is by far the most extensively used online device. With device constantly at hand children’s opportunity to access the internet becomes truly extensive.
More extensive use of the internet significantly strengthens children’s digital skills. So, children become substantially more skillful as they grow older. While older children evaluated their skills with considerably high grades, children aged 9 to 11 evaluated their skills somewhat under the average, including safety skills. For example, less than half of the children aged 9 to 11 know how to change their privacy setting, which information they should or should not share online, and how to remove people from their contact list.
Children’s attitudes towards safety of the internet use is rather ambivalent. A substantial number of children seem either not aware of the potential risks (29%), or not quite sure if there are upsetting things on the internet (34%); only 37% definitely agree that there are things on the internet that bother or upset people about their age. 9 to 11 year-olds are the least aware that upsetting thigs are present on the internet – only 27% of them agreed with the statement that there are things on the internet that bother children of their age.
On the other hand, in spite of higher awareness and advanced digital skills, older children more often perform online risky activities and more often run into some nasty online incidents.