Belgrade, Serbia, June 15 2018 - Children start using the Internet at an early age, and parents do not have enough knowledge and skills to protect them from possible abuses, a research finds.
The research was conducted within the "Safe Internet for the whole family" project, implemented by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development, with the support of company Telenor.
The research findings were presented at the panel discussion "Children and Internet - Smart from the beginning", with the participation of the representatives of UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development, experts, educators, teachers and parents of preschool children.
"The use of digital devices is one of the particular challenges for parents, and for setting limits in education of children. This is where parents' educational styles, their effectiveness and weak sides come to light.
It opens new areas of cooperation between parents and preschool institutions and schools, and of strengthening adult competencies both in the field of education and in the use of modern technologies.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development believes that the results of this research will have an impact on the development of adult consciousness on the risks of using inappropriate technologies for child development, the importance of child safety on the Internet and the need for a common approach," said Biljana Lajovic, a specialist in school psychology from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development.
Two thirds of parents have had a conflict with their children attempting to limit the time spent on the Internet, while one third of them have had confronted with their children because of setting boundaries on the available content on the Internet.
The Internet has provided children more opportunities for education and entertainment but, on the other hand, has increased potential risks of exposure to the content inappropriate for their age, digital violence and various forms of child abuse.
"UNICEF has launched this project in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development to help secure a safe and stimulating environment that should contribute to reducing the exposure of youngest children to online risks.
The specific objectives of the project are awareness raising training of teachers and educators and improving knowledge of parents and children about the risks of the Internet, as well as empowering parents and children between the ages of four and eight for safe use of the Internet.
We thank Telenor company, our partner with which we have been creating a safe environment for our children through this and a number of other projects throughout the years “, said Tanja Rankovic, UNICEF in Serbia Education Specialist.
Key findings from the research:
- Most children start using digital devices at the age of four: Children of younger primary school age start to use them at the age of five, while children under five start already at the age of three.
- Every fourth child of preschool age and more than half of children of primary school age already own a digital device.
- The most commonly used digital device among children of preschool and younger primary school age is a "smart phone, and the second most used is a tablet computer. 70 percent of children use the phone without supervision, 24 percent with someone’s support, and only 6 percent of children do not use the device.
- Two thirds of parents have had a conflict with their children attempting to limit the time spent on the Internet, while one third of them have had confronted with their children because of setting boundaries on the available content on the Internet.
- One third of the surveyed parents are not familiar enough with digital devices to block promotional content offered on the Internet, or to prevent their children from leaving "active digital traces on the Internet".
- Two thirds of teachers (68 per cent) rarely help pupils use the Internet, and more than half almost never teaches children how to react if disturbed by some content on the Internet or if they experience digital violence.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.