EU Kids Online: Young people show increasing confidence when dealing with risks on the Internet

On Safer Internet Day, the new EU Kids Online 2020 report introduces how young people deal with Internet risks and opportunities. In all, between 2017 and 2019, the study surveyed 25,101 children and young people from 19 European countries about their digital experiences. Situations that bother youngsters include cyberbullying, harmful content, misuse of personal data, excessive use of the Internet, sexting messages and encounters with acquaintances online.

According to data provided by the EU Kids Online Research Network, Portugal is one of the countries where more children and young people show confidence when dealing with risks. More than two-thirds of respondents say they know how to react always or often to behaviors that they dislike on the Internet. The results of the report show that Portuguese children and young people associate risk situations less and less with the damage that can result from them.

The report highlights the idea that digital activities cannot be defined as being positive or negative at all. Face-to-face meetings with people who know each other on the Internet, which were mentioned by a minority, are an example of this situation. In most of the reported cases, the meetings were positive. In Portugal, 84% of respondents say they were happy to have contacted people they met on the Internet, with less than 5% indicating they were very uncomfortable.

To SAPO TEK, Cristina Ponte, Professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and coordinator of the Portuguese research team at EU Kids Online, explained that most of the meetings are with people of her age who they met through her network of friends and share the same interests. It is necessary to counter the idea that all meetings with people who know each other on the Internet are necessarily harmful. There may be, and there is, an experience that is rewarding and that stems from the knowledge of other young people your age.

How do young people deal with online risks?

The new report highlights that, in the face of an online situation that bothered them, European children and young people do not usually ask for help from teachers or professionals whose work helps young people, preferring contact with friends or even parents. In Portugal, 44% of respondents sought advice from friends and 37% spoke to parents about situations that made them uncomfortable. Only 7% of children and young people spoke to teachers.