Majority of children use their phones daily or almost all the time

These latest findings show a real increase in the proportion of children who encounter online risks, and in those who find them upsetting.
- Professor Sonia Livingstone
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The majority of children in 19 European countries report using their smartphones ‘daily’ or ‘almost all the time’, according to new report published on Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 11 February) and co-authored by LSE expert, Professor Sonia Livingstone.

These findings mark a substantial increase in both the proportion of smartphone-using children and their internet use, compared with a similar survey in 2010.

For example, the findings show the time children spend online each day has almost doubled in many countries, increasing from about one to three hours per day in Spain, and from about two to three-and-a-half hours in Norway.

Despite spending more time online, many children are yet to receive any online safety advice from parents, teachers or friends. With between one in ten and one in four children saying they never or hardly ever receive online safety advice from these groups.

However, when children have a negative experience online, they mostly speak to parents or friends, and only rarely tell teachers or professionals whose job it is to help them.

The new report, EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries, mapped the online experiences of children aged 9-16, including cyberbullying, seeing harmful content, data misuse, excessive internet use, sexting and meeting unknown people from the internet.

The percentage of children who reported they had been bothered or upset on the internet in the survey varied from 7% to 45% across countries - a considerably higher proportion than in the 2010 survey when it was between 6% to 25%.

Commenting, LSE Professor Sonia Livingstone, one of the report authors, said: “These latest findings show a real increase in the proportion of children who encounter online risks, and in those who find them upsetting. This suggests we must re-double our efforts to promote children’s digital resilience and to regulate for a digital world that respects and fulfils children’s best interests.”

The new report maps the risks and opportunities of the internet for children aged 9-16 in Europe. Teams from the EU Kids Online network collaborated between autumn 2017 and summer 2019 to conduct a major survey of 25,101 children in 19 European countries.

Behind the article

The report EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries updates and deepens the understanding of the online lives of children today, and how this differs across Europe. Nationally representative surveys were conducted through household sampling in Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Slovakia, and via schools in Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium (Flanders only), Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.

The full report is available at

EU Kids Online is a multinational research network. It seeks to enhance knowledge of European children’s online opportunities, risks and safety. It uses multiple methods to map children’s and parents’ experiences of the internet, in dialogue with national and European policy stakeholders. EU Kids Online is established as the primary source of high-quality, independent and comprehensive evidence underpinning a better and safer internet for children in Europe. Now working in more than 30 countries, the network integrates research expertise across multiple disciplines and methods. It has built constructive relationships with governments, media, industry, policy-makers, educators and practitioners at national, European and international levels. Its findings and reports are widely referred to in policy statements, having guided numerous initiatives to improve children’s online experiences.