With screen time currently at an all-time high due to stay-at-home measures around the world, new findings suggest that the need for online safety precautions has become of critical importance.
A new report, EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries, maps internet access, online practices, skills, and online risks, for children aged 9–16 in Europe.
Teams of researchers 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, including the Czech Republic.
Among many other findings, the survey shows that the majority of children in 19 European countries report using their smartphones ‘daily’ or ‘almost all the time’. This marks a substantial increase in both the proportion of smartphone-using children as well as the amount of their internet use compared with the EU Kids Online 2010 survey.
In the Czech Republic researchers from Masaryk University in Brno researched how often children see hateful comments, articles, photographs and other content on the Internet.
Together with colleagues from EU Kids On-line, they discovered that reading and seeing hate speech was not unusual for children from the age of eleven to seventeen. “However, the extent of this experience varies across the countries where this current research took place,” says Tereza Fojtová, a spokeswoman for Masaryk University.
Czech children showed the highest viewership rate.
Fifty-nine percent of children in the 11-17 age group experienced negative or hateful messages. For comparison: in Poland, less than fifty percent of children subscribed to hateful comments and other texts, in France a fifth.
In the Czech Republic, up to six percent of children encounter online hatred every day. Children and adolescents have the lowest daily experience in Italy and Slovakia, at about one percent.
“It is important to find out which children can be most at risk, and to adapt prevention and intervention strategies accordingly,” says psychologist Hana Macháčková from the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University, one of the authors of the report.
In the Czech Republic, five percent of children and adolescents sent hate messages on the Internet, a rate that is less than their Polish or Romanian peers.
“Cyber hatred reduces cohesion in society and strengthens discriminatory attitudes towards already vulnerable groups,” said Marie Bedrošová, one of the authors of the report from the Czech team, about the results of the study.