During the event, the impact of internet use on children's emotional wellbeing and the importance of introducing safer internet notions in the educational process were discussed. Speakers in the event consisted of:
- Ecaterina Andronescu, Minister of Education
- Maria-Manuela Catrina, Secretary of State, Ministry of Communications and Information Society
- Gabriela Coman, President, National Authority for Protecting Child's Rights and Adoption
- Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President, Save the Children Romania
- Serban Iosifescu, expert in education.
The results of the latest study on children's internet use carried out by the Romanian SIC were presented, and the complete study was published. The paper looks into the use of internet by children aged 12-17 and shows that:
- 96 per cent of children access the internet using a smartphone;
- 99 per cent has a profile on a social networks;
- the most popular social networks are Facebook (95 per cent), YouTube (90 per cent) and Instagram (81 per cent);
- 27 per cent of respondents spend over six hours online on a school day, while 48 per cent do this in the weekend or when they are in vacation;
- 54 per cent of children have been bullied online;
- 43 per cent of children post personal information online (their picture, address, school they go to, check-ins);
- the online environment represents children's main source of information, with 47 per cent of them saying they check the veracity of the information they read online rarely or not at all;
- 61 per cent of children say they have been bothered by something they saw online (such as violent content, sexually explicit content, online advertising);
- 43 per cent say they saw or received sexually explicit content online.
Interestingly, respondents who say they spend over six hours online, say they are significantly less happy with their life in present, their relationship with their parents, friends and teachers, think to a significant lower extent that their daily activities have purpose and are less optimistic about their future.
Similarly, children who have been victims of cyberbullying or sexting give significantly lower scores on questions that measure emotional well-being. The lack of an emotional support network is strongly associated with low scores regarding emotional wellbeing. This is the same for children who do not have people in their life who appreciate them.
The complete study can be consulted (in Romanian) online.
The overall attendance and impact of the event was great, as many media channels covered the subject with four prints, 25 national televised reports, 15 radio shows, 101 online articles and one television show broadcasted nationally.
Besides the press conference, the Romanian SIC also launched an educational initiative dedicated to celebrating SID. The national competition "I choose consciously. Stop internet addiction!" is addressed to children and young people under the coordination of an adult, teacher or leader of an initiative group. The contest will take place between Wednesday, 20 February 2019 and Friday, 12 April 2019, and participants can be classes of students coordinated by teachers from the primary and secondary education, in three categories and initiative groups from child and youth organisations in the special category.
In short, the steps to participate in the contest are:
- Organise a debate within the classroom where children are invited to discuss issues related to internet addiction.
- Organising a public action/event involving adults (teachers, parents, local authorities and so on) that aims to bring together more than 50 local representatives to raise awareness regarding internet addiction.
- Create a video clip of up to three minutes to capture the most important conclusions of discussions and recommendations of how children and young people propose to prevent internet addiction.
Based on the experience of previous years and the collaboration Save the Children has with schools all over Romania, a high number of participants is expected, as well as an important impact of the activities that will be organised in local communities all over the country.
Check the Romanian Safer Internet Day profile page for further information.
Find out more information about the work of the Romanian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.