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Insights from under 18 Net users in 4 countries: Research

globalkidsonlineYoung people worldwide are beginning to see the Internet “as a human right, a necessity.” That’s from Global Kids Online, a research project and network now encompassing 33 countries (and counting). It just released findings from South Africa, the Philippines, Serbia and Argentina, summarized here.

“My favorite apps are social media – Whatsapp and Facebook. Also Instagram,” 15-year-old Siyanda in Mdantsane, South Africa, told researchers in his country, where most access is mobile. “At the moment we don’t have a lot here, on this side of the planet,” said Nolwande, a mother in the same town, so they do go to the Internet. They do see what they can do with what they have. They can become more.” “I can find some things that I can’t find in the dictionaries, and then I can be good at schoolwork,” said 15-year-old Asenathi. “She gets brilliant with that Internet,” said her dad. That’s just a tiny sampler from Global Kids Online’s not-to-be-missed 5 min. video on the South Africa project.

1/3 of world’s Net users are U18

“In many ways, children from very different countries share similar online interests. In the Philippines, for instance, children love Facebook and YouTube, and their top online activities are learning something new, social media, watching video clips, using the internet for schoolwork, and playing online games. In other words, pretty much the same as found in Europe,” the researchers write.

What they released this week is just the first stage of this important project focused on youth rights in the digital age – important because a third of the planet’s Internet users are under 18 and most of the research on how youth use connected media is on North America and Europe. “A child-rights approach seeks to consider the balance between risks and opportunities in the round,” the authors write.

“In the face of moral panics about online risks, we should remind ourselves that children mainly want to learn and to be in touch with people,” write researchers Sonia Livingstone and Mariya Stoilova. “It is important that adults – whether parents or politicians – do not close off those opportunities.”

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