Half of the young children in the E.U. don’t have basic Internet safety skills such as knowing how to control privacy settings or block unwanted contacts.
However, the threats faced by children online are steadily decreasing, according to a new study by the European Commission. Only 5 percent of children in Europe say that they have been bullied online, with a high of 14 percent in Estonia and Romania.
The EUKidsOnline survey interviewed more than 23,000 children and one of their parents in 22 E.U. member states, as well as Turkey and Norway. It found that, on average, European children start using the Internet at the age of seven, but a third of children between the ages of nine and 12 feel that there are enough “good things for kids” online.
Broadly speaking, children go online the earliest in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and U.K., and later in Mediterranean countries. The most active young Internet users are aged 15 and 16, with 77 percent going online daily.
Children in the survey say they use the Internet primarily for school work or watching videos (84 percent and 83 percent respectively), playing games (74 percent) and communicating via instant message (61 percent).
The vast majority of children use the Internet at home (85 percent), with school in second place (63 percent). Although children mainly use computers to go online, the survey found that one-third now connect via mobile devices.