Study on children's internet use in Romania

  • Awareness
  • 25/09/2019
  • Romanian Safer Internet Centre

Children and adolescents' internet use has both opportunities and risks. Specialists from Romanian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) Save the Children Romania have therefore set out to explore the impact of the use of the internet on children's emotional well-being. 

The study focused on generating knowledge of the online experiences of children aged 12-17 in Romania. Researchers from the Romanian SIC carried out a survey (web-based questionnaire) from April to September 2018 – in which 1,156 children took part – and subsequently published a report on the main findings, detailed below.

Internet use among children aged 12-17

  • 96 per cent of children access the internet using their mobile phones.
  • 99 per cent of children say that they have a profile on a social networking site. The most popular social networks are Facebook (96 per cent), YouTube (90 per cent) and Instagram (81 per cent).
  • 27 per cent of children spend over 6 hours a day online on a normal school day.
  • 48 per cent of children spend over 6 hours online in the weekend or on vacations.

Risks of children's internet use

  • 54 per cent of children say they have been victims of cyberbullying online, the percentage being higher when speaking about girls. 44 per cent of the children that have been cyberbullied say they have been "really upset" or "upset" following the incident (especially the girls).
  • 40 per cent of children say that they go online without having a specific purpose "very often" or "quite often"; 31 per cent of children say they have spent less time with family or doing homework in order to be online; 23 per cent say they have not felt comfortable when not being able to be online.
  • 43 per cent of children say they post personal information online like photographs, their address, or the places they go to.
  • The online environment represents the main source of information of children, followed by discussions in the peer group and discussion with family or teachers. 48 per cent of children verify "sometimes", "rarely" or "not at all" the veracity of the information they read online.
  • 61 per cent of children say they have felt uncomfortable with something they saw online, significantly more girls than boys.
  • 43 per cent of children say they have seen or received sexually explicit materials online. Half of these children have been personally sent this type of message and 20 per cent have been asked to send a photograph or a recording showing their genitals. Girls are more likely to encounter this risk.

The internet in an educational context

  • 73 per cent of children use the internet at school. Less than half of these children say they use it in the classroom with their teacher, 87 per cent say they use it during breaks at school and 31 per cent that they do it in the classroom, hiding it from their teachers.
  • 40 per cent of children say they have not been encouraged by teachers to use the internet.
  • Children learn using the internet, especially things that they are passionate about, things that they do not discuss in school or things that apply in the offline.

Online games

  • 63 per cent of children say they play games online, significantly more boys than girls.
  • 80 per cent of children say they do this because it is fun and 60 per cent because it relaxes them. 45 per cent of children say they play games online because they are bored.

Well-being

  • Children that spend over 6 hours online per day are significantly less satisfied with their present life; they are significantly less satisfied with their relationship with parents, friends and teachers; they consider to a much lower extent that their daily activities have meaning and they are less optimistic about their future.
  • Children that have been victims of cyberbullying, sexting or that show signs of internet addiction, give significantly lower scores to questions related to emotional well-being.
  • The lack of a support network is very strongly associated with low scores on items that measure emotional well-being, the same being true for children that do not feel appreciated or feel that the appreciation they receive is conditioned.

On the basis of this research, recommendations for authorities, parents, teachers, care-givers and industry were made. Children and adolescents need to be educated on the legislation on the topic and digital skills. Furthermore, parents, caregivers and teachers should have the appropriate tools to be able to both promote and protect children's rights in the digital environment. Further multidisciplinary research and open discussion between professionals is needed in order to obtain more in-depth relevant data.

More information (in Romanian) about the study can be found on the website of the Romanian SIC.

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.


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