DIT investigates ways to create a better internet for kids

DIT organises Digital Youth Symposium to address ways to create a safer and better internet experience for children

This Friday, November 2nd, international internet and educational experts will address an invited audience drawn from the industry, policy, education and youth sectors to debate how to create a better internet for kids. Ms Frances Fitzgerald T.D., the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, will open the symposium, which will examine how to promote digital opportunities for young people.

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The Symposium, organised by the Dublin Institute of Technology, will hear how a new policy is needed in order to equip young people with the skills to protect themselves online and get the most out of the digital environment.

Speaking in advance of the Symposium, Sonia Livingstone, a Professor of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and leader of the EU Kids Online project, said: 

“Our research shows that there’s a lot more work to be done if children and parents are to have access to user-friendly, responsive and effective safety tools on the internet that they deserve. At present, parental worries about online risks are high, preventing children from enjoying the full benefits of internet use.”

The European Commission has called for the stimulation of creative and educational content for young people and for the scaling up of awareness-raising and digital literacy initiatives to create a safer online environment.

According to EU Kids Online – research which surveyed 25,000 9-16 year olds across Europe - young people in Ireland are behind their European counterparts when it comes to participating in the most productive and creative activities online.

Encouraging More Online Activities and Better Skills Makes Children Safer

According to EU Kids Online, more than a third of parents (35%) worry their children will be bullied offline or online, might see inappropriate internet content or be contacted by strangers online. Yet parents in Ireland are among the most restrictive in Europe, with 95% setting rules about what their children can and cannot do online. This may lull parents into a false of security and limit children’s opportunities to acquire better online safety skills.

Dr. Brian O'Neill, a researcher at the Dublin Institute of Technology who is responsible for the EU Kids Online project in Ireland, explains: “Encouraging children to do more online will improve their overall digital literacy skills and their ability to stay safe online. EU Kids Online has found that teaching children to be safer online need not curtail their internet opportunities; in fact, the opposite is the case.”

Digital Learning is a Key Driver

The Symposium will hear from leading education experts in UNECSO and the OECD who will point to the crucial role that internet technologies now play in education. Emphasising digital learning opportunities in the curriculum can be a crucial driver in developing digital literacy skills, minimising digital divides, increasing safety and fostering better online participation.

Addressing the challenging map laid down for Irish education, Anne Looney, the CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, will highlight the role that technology can play:

A common theme across current educational developments in Ireland is the focus on the experiences of children and young people, and on supporting their active engagement and autonomy in the learning process. Their technologies, their networks, how they access information and how they create meaning require the attention of educators who may sometimes be more focused on giving (and controlling access to) our technologies and our meaning.”

Key findings from EU Kids Online in Ireland:

  • 57% of young people don’t go beyond the second step of a 5 stage ladder of online activities. The most popular activities are ‘watching video clips’ and ‘playing internet games’ (76% each), followed by using the internet for schoolwork and using social networking (58% each).
  • Use of the internet at home (IE 87% vs. EU 62%) and mobile internet access is high (IE 46% vs. EU 31%). So too is going online via gaming consoles (IE 44% vs. EU 26%).  
  • One third of 9-16 year olds (34%) also say they know more about the internet than their parents: one third (31%) say it is ‘a bit true’ and one third (36%) say it is ‘not true’ of them.
  • Over half of Irish parents also feel they should do more to support their children’s internet use (27% a lot more; 37% a bit more). Younger children would also like parents to take more interest (22% of 9-12 year old boys; 25% of 9-12 year old girls).

The Digital Youth Symposium takes place in the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin on November 2nd, 2012 at 9.30am.  It is organised by Dublin Institute of Technology in conjunction with EU Kids Online and webwise.ie

Information about the project:

  • The EU Kids Online project aims to enhance knowledge of European children’s and parents’ experiences and practices regarding risky and safer use of the internet and new online technologies, and thereby to inform the promotion of a safer online environment for children. The project is funded by the EC Safer Internet Programme (SI-2010-TN-4201001).
  • EU Kids Online conducted a face-to-face, in home survey of 25,000 9-16 year old internet users and their parents in 25 countries, using a stratified random sample and self-completion methods for sensitive questions.
  • In Ireland, EU Kids Online is led by Brian O'Neill, Dublin Institute of Technology in association with PDST (Professional Development Services for Teachers) and www.webwise.ie.
  • Webwise.ie is an internet safety initiative focused on raising awareness of online safety issues and good practice among students, their parents and teachers
  • Webwise is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre which is funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the EU Safer Internet Programme. Webwise is a member of the Insafe network.

For more information:

The latest EU Kids Online report, National Perspectives, is available for download here.

See www.digitalyouth.ie

 

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