To protect children from online risks, it is important to recognise that children’s perceptions of online problematic situations may greatly differ from those of adults.
What adults perceive as problematic does not necessarily result in a negative or harmful experience for children.
This report shows that children’s perceptions of online risks strongly depend on their awareness of how online activities may turn into problematic or harmful situations.
Also important is their knowledge of effective preventive measures, since it appears that when children feel capable of dealing with a risk they are less fearful or worried by it.
Children expressed a range of concerns about online problems that sometime bother or upset them.
The salient risks in children’s eyes are online bullying and harassment, unwelcome contact from strangers, misuse of personal information, issues related to sexual content or communication, and commercial content.
Looking at the media platforms where these incidents occur, about half of unpleasant online experiences happen on social networking sites such as Facebook.
While children acknowledge the potential risks of social networking sites, they do not necessarily do something to avoid the risk.
However, when they do feel capable of dealing with the risk, they are less fearful or worried about it.
These new findings result from the qualitative analysis of 57 focus groups and 113 personal interviews with children aged 9 to 16.
In total, 349 children from nine different European countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and UK) were invited to explain what they perceive as problematic or harmful online, and what they do to prevent harm from occurring.