In brief: Maltese findings from EU Kids Online 2020

Smartphone use increases with age, with about half of the younger children aged between 9 and 10 accessing the internet through a mobile phone. This number increases to 9 out of every 10 children between the ages of 15 and 16. For all participants, the two most common online activities are watching video clips (79%) and listening to music (72%).

One in every four children had received sexually explicit messages and one in five received requests of a sexual nature. Of those aged 15 to 16, 70% have seen sexual content in the last year. Younger children (24% of 9- to 10-year-olds and 34% of 11- to 12-year-olds) were very upset by these images; 21% of children aged between 9 and 16 did not speak to anybody about an online experience that had disturbed them. Friends (39%) and parents (42%) were the main source of support in cases when they did seek help. The percentage of children who did nothing when facing such problems remains high, with 33% ignoring the problem or hoping that it would go away and 30% closing the website or app.

The belief that teachers care about children is well above the average (74%). Despite a climate of trust in classrooms, mediation by teachers is low and remains restrictive rather than enabling; 43% of participants said they had received rules about what they were allowed to do on the internet at school, while 45% said they had received advice on how to use the internet safely. 


  • Lauri, M.A. & Farrugia, L. (2019). Access, use, risks and opportunities for Maltese children on the internet. Msida: University of Malta.
  • Eighty-nine per cent said that they use the internet every day at home. Far fewer (5%) of 15- to 16-year-olds use the internet at school. This may reflect less openness to technology in the classroom. Internet use at school is higher among students between the ages of 9 and 10 (13%). Thirty-five per cent of children aged 9 to 16 made contact with people online they had never met offline. Around half of these children met in real life the people they had come to know online.
  • The small size of the country is possibly one reason why so many children could meet up with somebody they met online. The majority of those who decided to meet these online acquaintances in real life were happy to have done so; however, 6% were uncomfortable with this.
  • Among risks related to privacy, 11% experience people pretending to be them and 7% say that somebody had created fake pages or images and circulated them to damage their reputation. These privacy risks are more common among adolescents and may lead to widespread damage because of the familiarity that characterises the local context. 



Lauri, M.A. & Farrugia, L. (2019). Access, use, risks and opportunities for Maltese children on the internet. Msida: University of Malta.


Farrugia, L., Lauri, M. A., Borg, J., & O’Neill, B. (2018). Have you asked for it? An exploratory study about Maltese adolescents’ use of Journal of Adolescent Research.

Farrugia, L. & Lauri, M.A. (2018). Maltese parents’ awareness and management of risks their children face online p. 135-146 in Giovanna Mascheroni, Cristina Ponte & Ana Jorge (eds.) Digital Parenting. The Challenges for Families in the Digital Age. Göteborg: Nordicom.

Farrugia, L. (2018). Self-Other positioning: Insights into children’s understanding of risks in new media, p.233-245 in Laura Peja, Nico Carpentier, Fausto Colombo, Maria Francesca Murru, Simone Tosoni, Richard Kilborn, Leif Kramp, Risto Kunelius, Anthony McNicholas, Hannu Nieminen, and Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt. Current Perspectives on Communication and Media Research.


Jorge, A., & Farrugia, L. (2017). Are victims to blame? Youth, gender and moral discourse on online risk. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, 9(2), 285-301.


Dinh, T., Farrugia, L., O'Neill, B., Vandoninck, S., & Velicu, A. (2016). Internet safety helplines: exploratory study first findings.

Dinh, T., Farrugia, L., O’Neill, B., Vandoninck, S., & Velicu, A. (2016). Insafe Helplines: Operations, effectiveness and emerging issues for internet safety helplines. Brussels: Insafe, European Schoolnet, 2016.


Lauri, M.A., Borg, J. & Farrugia, L. (2015). Children’s internet use and their parents’ perceptions of the children’s online experience. Malta: Malta Communications Authority.


Borg, J. (2014, June 10). Safely surfing the [Web log posy]

Mascheroni, G., Jorge, A. and Farrugia, L. (2014). ‘Media representations and children’s discourses on online risks: findings from qualitative research in nine European countries.’ Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace 8, 2, article 2.  


Sinner, P., Prochazka, F., Paus-Hasebrink, I. and Farrugia, L. (2013). ‘FAQ 34: What are good approaches to conducting focus groups with children?’ In K. Ólafsson, S. Livingstone and L. Haddon (Eds). How to research children and online technologies? Frequently asked questions and best practice (pp. 90-92). London: LSE.


prof lauri 2019

Mary Anne Lauri is an Professor of Psychology at the University of Malta. Lectures Research Methods and Media Psychology. Research interests include media education and digital literacy. 

Joseph Borg

Joseph Borg lectures in Communication Studies at the University of Malta. He was part of the team which introduced media education in Church schools in Malta in the beginning of the 1980s and has co-authored the textbooks used in secondary schools and a number of academic papers. Borg is also the editor of Campus FM, the radio station run by the University of Malta. 

DSC_3798 - Lorleen

Lorleen Farrugia is a PhD candidate at the University of Malta. She is researching children’s representations of online risk. She is also a member of the Besmartonline! Advisory Board.


Malta Communications Authority:
(The National Communications Regulator)

Agenzija Appogg:
(Government agency offering help to families, vulnerable people and those in need of social help).


Commissioner for Children:


University of Malta, Msida, Malta, MSD 2080, Malta, Email: