"Childhood in the digital age: Excessive time behind the screens" conference in Romania

  • Awareness
  • 27/09/2019
  • Romanian Safer Internet Centre

According to the latest study conducted by Save the Children Romania for the Romanian Safer Internet Centre, 31 per cent of Romanian children spent less time with their family, friends or doing things for school in order to stay on the internet, and 28 per cent of children say they tried, without succeeding, to spend less time on the internet.

Referring to the time spent on the internet, 40 per cent of the children surveyed say they "often" or "very often" browse without a specific purpose, while 23 per cent did not feel at ease when they did not have access to the internet, and nearly 13 per cent of children they have already repeatedly not eaten or slept so they could spend more time online.

Internet addiction can have negative effects on children's emotional state but also on their social and school performance. According to the study's main findings, those who spend more than six hours online are significantly more dissatisfied with their relationship with their parents, their friends and their teachers, and are less optimistic about the future.

The phenomenon of internet addiction was at the heart of the discussions at the conference "Childhood in the digital age: Excessive time behind the screens", attended by Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President of Save the Children Romania, Radu Szekely, Strategic Adviser at the Ministry of National Education, Mădălina Puiu, Social Responsibility Programmes Coordinator at Orange Romania, Georgiana Rosculet, Psychologist at Save the Children Romania, Cristian China-Birta, blogger, Andra Gogan, vlogger and Anca Serea, supporter of Save the Children Romania, blogger and parent.

Participants had the opportunity to learn from psychologists and bloggers about addiction to the internet and digital technologies, how the time spent on the internet can influence the emotional and cognitive development of children, what are the signs that a child is close to addiction, and how we can help them overcome that, compensating with analog activities.

At the same time, the participants could ask questions and receive answers from experts, as well as from young digital natives, who presented on how the phenomenon of internet addiction is viewed by those who grow up in a digital world.

According to Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President of Save the Children Romania, "as the internet has become an integrated part of our life and our children's lives, it is time to tackle the issue of internet addiction and technology very seriously, even among the smallest and most vulnerable users. The harmful effects of uncontrollable time spent on the internet has on the emotional and cognitive development of children are unquestionable. Problems with sleep, communication difficulties, anxiety or depression are just some of the symptoms of internet addiction; they are often complemented with signs of dissatisfaction during offline activities such as boredom or irritability. Parents need to be very careful of these signs, and to intervene according to the advice received from the specialists".

During the conference, the winners of the national competition "I choose consciously. Stop Internet Addiction!" were announced. This contest was organised by Save the Children Romania in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of National Education, and supported by Orange Romania. The school competition, which ran from Wednesday, 20 February to Friday, 12 April 2019, brought together 143 projects from 130 schools and involved over 10,000 people – pupils, parents, teachers – in national activities.

The authors of the winning projects received diplomas from the Ministry of National Education and Save the Children, IT equipment that will facilitate the educational process, provided with the support of Orange Romania and intensive training courses for teachers conducted by the Romanian SIC team.

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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