Online on the mobile: Internet use on smartphones and associated risks among youth in Europe

Barbara Scifo, Gitte Stald, Lilia Green, Monica Barbovski, Leslie Haddon, Giovanna Mascheroni, Bence Ságvári, Liza Tsaliki

Risultato della ricerca: Altra tipologiaOther contribution


1. This report analyses how children aged 9-16 changed their internet use between 2010, when most children used fixed computers and laptops, and 2013, with over one-quarter (c. 28%) of 9-12 year olds, and three-fifths (c. 60%) of 13-16 year olds, accessing the internet via a smartphone. 2. Children experience slightly increased risk when accessing the internet via a smartphone or tablet. Historically, such children came from richer, more privileged backgrounds, and spent more time online: all linked with risk exposure. Now that most 13-16 year olds have smartphones, they are no longer an elite. Along with extra risk, children with smartphones access the internet more often, engage in a greater range of activities, and have a higher number of skills. 3. The likelihood of children experiencing three or more risks has not changed greatly between 2010 and 2013, except for a rise in the 9-10 age group (from 1% on 2010 to 4% in 2013), and a rise among girls (14% in 2010, 17% in 2013). Among 9-10s, 19% encountered one or more risks online in 2010, while this rose to 24% in 2013. 4. While younger children are less likely than older children to encounter online risks, they are more likely to be affected by the risks they experience. Parents of younger children with smartphones should be encouraged to actively regulate their child’s internet use. The younger the child, the more their parents should involve themselves. 5. For six of the seven risks investigated in 2010 and 2013, the proportion of children experiencing the risk has risen. Fewer children (aged 11-16) had received sexual messages: this had declined from 14% in 2010 to 11% in 2013. 6. 2010 data indicate that parents whose children had smart handheld devices were less likely to lay down rules around their child’s internet activities. Although this group of children were comparatively privileged, and older, and more likely to encounter risk, parents seem to have trusted their child to make good choices. Given that mobile internet access is associated with fewer parental restrictions, this 2010 data raises concern in 2013, now that so many more children have smartphones. 7. In 2010, parents of children with smart handheld devices were also less likely to use technology filters to keep their child safe. This may reflect the difficulties parents experienced in finding consistent, easy-to-use, handset controls to support their child’s safe mobile internet use. In 2013, many more parents are allowing children to use smartphones, but we do not know much about their strategies for keeping children safe. 8. Children’s risk experiences vary with gender and age, and this is clear from both the 2010 and the 2013 data. Smart media introduce new risks such as geo-locational data and apps which connect mobile users with co-present strangers. Such risks to children’s safety have yet to be investigated. 9. National differences are important but the overall picture is one of “more and more”: more access, more often, using more devices, with more risk. As Livingstone et al say (2011: 142) “children’s experiences of online opportunities and risks go hand in hand – the more of one tends to mean the more of the other”. Major recommendations 1. Industry stakeholders – software developers, technology companies, service providers – should prioritise the development of a suite of consistent, easy-to-use, handset controls which parents can use to support and monitor their children’s safe mobile internet use. 2. Smartphones pose new risks for children, requiring new research.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014


  • europe
  • mobile internet
  • risks
  • smarthpohones
  • youth


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