Inclusive digital experience: reality and needs in Ukraine

In May 2020, non-governmental organisation (NGO) Better Internet Centre and the Centre Startum (Kharkiv) launched the project #Cornflowers (Inclusive digital experience: reality and needs) in Ukraine.

2020-09-30 Better Internet Centre, Ukrainian SIC+ programme participant awareness media literacy/education

The aim of the project is to help the families of children with disabilities and with special educational needs to protect them from online threats and to use the possibilities offered by the internet for their development and leisure.

"Educational sites, applications and cartoons contain a lot of useful, beautiful and accessible information. However, we encourage parents to familiarise themselves with the content before offering it to a child. It is helpful to evaluate what a child does while using digital devices and/or using the internet. We encourage parents and caregivers to consult specialists to fully enjoy all opportunities of digital age and to avoid any risks", said Darya Kobyakova, speech therapist and director of the Centre Startum.

Within the project, the study on inclusive digital experience was conducted by Better Internet Centre in collaboration with the Centre Startum (Kharkіv), with informational support from the State Institute of Modernisation of the Content of Education.

The questionnaire for parents and caregivers was developed based on the Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection; Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)6 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on a guide to human rights for internet users ; the resolutions of the 32nd session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council "Promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights on the internet" ; and according to national law.

The participation of Better Internet Centre in the SIC+ programme, notably in the webinar on evidence from Global Kids Online on children's rights, opportunities, and risks was an opportunity to dive deeper into the methodology of the research project Global Kids Online.  For the development of the questionnaire and analysis of answers of the survey #Cornflowers (Inclusive digital experience: reality and needs), researchers partially applied the methodology of the research project Global Kids Online.

509 parents and caregivers of children with disabilities and children with special educational needs from 20 regions of Ukraine took part in the study (non-representative sampling).

Access to the internet

The #Cornflowers study shows that 54.2 per cent of parents and caregivers have permanent access to the internet. 7.47 per cent of the respondents do not have any internet connection in their place of residence. 71.71 per cent of parents and caregivers use the internet every day at their workplace, and 70.53 per cent do so at home. 10.81 per cent of parents and caregivers never use the internet at home.
93.52 per cent of children with disabilities and children with special educational needs use the internet and digital devices. 56.78 per cent of children use the internet every day at home. Among those who use the internet, children with mental disorders, diseases of the nervous system, neuromuscular disorders, diseases of the musculoskeletal system and cancer are less represented.

User experience

51.25 per cent of children use the internet or digital devices fully autonomously. Among those who never use it autonomously, the children with mental disorders, speech disorders, diseases of the eye, diseases of the ear represent the largest portion.

47.35 per cent of children use a mobile phone everyday, 23.58 per cent use a computer (desktop computer, laptop) everyday, 14.34 per cent use a tablet everyday, and 12.38 per cent are connected to the internet via the television.

Activities online

66.60 per cent of children watch cartoons online and/or on digital devices. 66.21 per cent watch educational videos, 61.69 per cent of children play. 38.70 per cent of children communicate with others on the internet. 33.60 per cent create and download photos, videos, 28.09 per cent of children study online.

According to the answers of parents and caregivers, children with mental disorders and speech disorders communicate less with others, create less and download less content compared to children with other types of diseases.

Special equipment and soft

8.45 per cent of children use special equipment for surfing the internet. Most of the parents and caregivers consider parental control programmes as special equipment. Special sites, applications or games (including special educational games) are most often used by children with mental disorders and diseases of the ear.

Social media experience

38.11 per cent of children have profiles on social media. 59.79 per cent of those who have a profile, maintain it autonomously. Among the reasons why parents maintain a child's page on social media together with a child (or even without a child), parents and caregivers pointed at a child's lack of skills to maintain their own profile; or a child cannot maintain their own profile due to special needs. 3.14 per cent of parents and caregivers maintain a child's page on social media to seek help (in particular, financial support).

Family rules

54.03 per cent of parents and caregivers mentioned that they have common family rules for safe online behaviour. The most common examples are the rules of an open monitoring (child is informed about the monitoring of their activities online by parents) and restrictive strategies from parents and caregivers.

The study #Cornflowers (Inclusive digital experience: reality and needs) concludes with recommendations for the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine, civil society organisations, schools, parents and caregivers, on strengthening  the educational programmes on online safety for children with disabilities and special educational needs.

For further details, read the #Cornflowers (Inclusive digital experience: reality and needs) study (available in Ukrainian) and have a look at the infographic on the subject (in Ukrainian). To learn more about the SIC+ programme, read our dedicated article on the Better Internet for Kids portal.

For more information about Better Internet Centre, visit the Better Internet Centre website. For more information about Safer Internet Day activities in Ukraine, visit the Ukrainian Safer Internet Day Committee profile page.

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