EU Kids Online is a thematic network coordinated by Professor Sonia Livingstone and Dr Leslie Haddon at the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science. It aims to coordinate and stimulate investigation into the way children use new media, with a particular focus on evidence about the conditions that shape online risk and safety. Its three phases of work have been funded by the European Commission’s Better Internet for Kids (originally, Safer Internet) Programme.
EU Kids Online III, 2011-14
This ‘thematic network’ has 33 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus. the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK, as well as affiliates in Australia and Brazil.
The network provides a focal point for timely findings and critical analyses of new media uses and associated risks among children across Europe, drawing on these to sustain an active dialogue with stakeholders about priority areas of concern for child online safety.
Its three main tasks are to update and extend the European Evidence Database, including a summary in English of key findings and an update on research patterns and gaps. It also updated the methodological Frequently Asked Questions and reported on innovative methods for research with children. Thematic reports addressed disadvantaged families, the meaning of problematic situations for children, a comparative analysis of internet safety policy implementation, preventive measures, the internet use of young children, excessive internet use, country classification, coping and resilience, evidence for industry and regulation, children’s own accounts of risk and national perspectives. The final empirical project is a cross-national qualitative study of children’s accounts of online risk, still in progress.
It has an international advisory panel. See here for further information.
EU Kids Online II, 2009-11
This ‘knowledge enhancement’ project included 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.
The main focus was a survey of children and parents to produce original, rigorous data on their internet use, risk experiences and safety mediation. This aimed to (i) produce new, relevant, robust and comparable findings regarding the incidence of online risk among European children; (ii) pinpoint which children are particularly at risk and why, by examining vulnerability factors (at both individual and country levels); and (iii) examine the operation and effectiveness of parental regulation and awareness strategies, and children's own coping responses to risk, including their media literacy.
A random stratified sample of 25,142 children aged 9-16 who use the internet, plus one of their parents, was interviewed during Spring/Summer 2010 in 25 European countries. The survey investigated key online risks: pornography, bullying, receiving sexual messages, contact with people not known face-to-face, offline meetings with online contacts, potentially harmful user-generated content and personal data misuse. In addition to a report of the full findings, the network produced a series of thematic reports on parenting, bullying, patterns of risk and safety, disadvantaged children, risky opportunities, social networking and digital skills. Country comparisons and policy recommendations completed the analysis, all encapsulated in the final report. Further information.
EU Kids Online I, 2006-9
This was a ‘thematic network’ of multidisciplinary researchers in 21 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The key questions were: What research exists and what research is still needed? What risks exist, for which technologies, and in relation to which groups of children? How do social, cultural and regulatory influences affect the incidence and experience of, and the responses to, different risks? In accounting for current and ongoing research, and anticipating future research, what factors shape the research capability of European research institutions and networks?
The network identified relevant research to create a publicly accessible database of evidence on children’s use of the internet in Europe. On this basis, we identified research gaps and compared findings across countries to draw conclusions regarding internet risks and safety. To build research capacity, the network critically examined the methodological issues involved in studying children and the internet cross-culturally and generated a Best Practice Guide for researchers. To contextualise this field of research, our next report examined the intellectual, social, institutional and funding regimes across Europe. Finally, the network developed evidence-based policy recommendations for raising awareness, media literacy and other practical actions to promote safer use of the internet for children. All this work was brought together in our final report for stakeholders and an academic book. Further information.