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Panel Title: EU Kids Online: young people’s Internet use in four European countries and implications for media literacy provision. Carmelo Garitaonandia, Maialen Garmendia & Gemma Martinez University of the Basque Country

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Panel Title: EU Kids Online: young people’s Internet use in four European countries and implications for media literacy provision

Carmelo Garitaonandia, Maialen Garmendia & Gemma Martinez

University of the Basque Country

IAMCR Media Education and Research Section

Stockholm, 20th-125th June, 2008

Internet use among young people, 12 to 17, in Spain:

qualitative research findings on perceptions of risk

main quantitative research works in spain
Main Quantitative Research Works in Spain
  • ““Children - their safety and habits in the Internet”  Report made by the hotline ACPI-Protégeles for the Ombudsman for Children.
  • “Minors on the Internet: behaviour and Safe surfing” Report made by France-Telecom España Charity.
  • “2nd Study about youngsters’ habits using the Internet, from 12 to 17 years old”, Catalonian Charity for Research, 2004.
  • "Use of and attitudes of youth towards the Internet and mobile phones"  Report made by the EBCenter, led by Josep Valor and SandraSieber.
  • “Information Technologies in Spanish households" Socio-demographic analysis of the evolution of Internet use. Analysis (2003-2005) made by the Observatory of Telecommunications and the Information Society.
  • “Habits of consumption of television and new communication technologies of children and young people”   Survey made by CEACCU for the Institute of Consumption and the Ministry of Health and Consumption.
  • “Surfers in the Net”, Report made by the Association for the Research on Mass Communicationn (February-2006)
  • “Report about the Spanish Youth” Report Infojuve 2004 related to  "Values, participation and use of Technologies"
main qualitative research
Main Qualitative Research
  • “Safer Internet for Children: qualitative study in 29 European countries”, European Commission, Directorate of Media and the Information Society, May, 2007.
  • “How Spanish Young People Use the Internet: Habits, Risks and Parental Control”, Carmelo Garitaonandía & Maialen Garmendia, May 2007 (
two reasons to do qualitative research
Two reasons to do qualitative research
  • From a methodological perspective it seems more suitable to approach the habits of young people from an open and exploratory position.
  • Our interest in carrying out qualitative research has grown due to the fact that practically all of the research undertaken to date concerning Internet use in Spain has had a quantitative character.
research aims
Research Aims
  • The effects and consequences of surfing on relations amongst youths, and on relations of youths with their parents.
  • The potential risks for youths on Internet.
  • Parental regulation and control.
  • 6 focus groups, formed by youths aged between 12 and 17, all of whom were regular users of Internet.
  • These groups were formed by 8 adolescents, four boys and four girls, almost all of whom had television, VCR/DVD and a computer at home, their own mobile phone and home access to Internet.
  • The field work was carried out in the second half of May 2007 in six Spanish Cities: Barcelona, Bilbao, La Coruña, Madrid, Seville and Bilbao .
effects and consequences of internet on youngsters relationships 1
Effects and consequences of Internet on youngsters’ relationships (1)
  • Internet use does not cause any deterioration in youngsters’ relationships with their friends. In many cases, it even strengthens and accentuates these relationships.
  • Nor does the Internet seem to have a negative effect on the relationships of youths with their parents, and in many cases it actually seems to favour them.
effects and consequences of internet on youngsters relationships 2
Effects and consequences of Internet on youngsters’ relationships (2)
  • With respect to activities that the youths feel they do less frequently, it is basically watching television that is mentioned the most.
  • With some adolescents, it seems that there is also a negative effect on their school work.
  • But, in general, nobody feels that they play less or go out less frequently with their friends than before.

World Internet Project (2004, 14 Countries) states that surfers spend

more time on social activities than non Internet users

potential risks of internet
Potential risks of Internet
  • They believe that they do not place themselves in a situation of risk if “you don’t visit pages that you have no business visiting”.
  • They feel in control of the situation, that closing the webpage, moving to another site, or turning off the computer and not providing personal details is enough.
  • That if at some time “something happens to someone, it’s because they asked for it”.
  • For Spanish youngsters the real danger on the Internet is viruses.
risks in chatrooms and dates with strangers
Risks in chatrooms and dates with strangers
  • For the majority of Spanish youngsters going to chatrooms are situations of risks and they do not go, especially women.
  • Other youngsters, a minority think that chatrooms give you an opportunity to meet people.
  • Youngsters who go to the chatrooms protect themselves not giving personal information.
  • Youngsters who go to the chatrooms start their relationship step by step, during some weeks.
  • These dates with strangers can badly conclude, but we did not know any case in our survey, except some deceptions (Sonia Livingstone & Magdalena Bober, UK Children go online, 2005.
risks about violent content
Risks about violent content
  • They have access to violent contents through the videos that circulate on Internet.
  • While it is true that some youths do not like violent contents, they are in general not conscious of being affected or influenced by such material, or that their behaviour is conditioned by it.
  • They watch such videos because they find them amusing, while they watch the more violent ones out of curiosity.
  • Although they are aware that some of those videos are harmful and/or illegal, they see Internet as a world where many things can be found that are on the margins of legality, where there are no clear responsibilities, no authorities and no possibility of making demands against anyone
pornographic risks
Pornographic Risks
  • Almost every one has had access to pornography :
    • Through SPAM, Advertisements, Pop-ups,…, they do not seem to adopt a very active attitude in order to obtain it.
    • Sometimes it is sent by their peers.
    • No one admitted having looked for it, but they generally know of a friend who looks for it.
  • Women and younger children are less interested in pornography.
  • A factor against pornograhy:.
    • They considered pornography enemy number one in terms of Internet: viruses.
insults threats harassment
Insults, threats, harassment, …
  • It is difficult to measure the degree of severity of the insults amongst youngsteres and even some cases of threats, although on occasions they give rise to fear.
  • The older girls spoke of cases of harassment and sexual demands, and to a lesser degree the older boys as well. Even the younger ones are not free from harassment.
  • Paradoxically, when adolescents encounter serious problems on Internet they conceal them from their parents.
  • The likelihood of youngsters consulting their tutors and teachers about problems that arise on the Internet is nonexistent

In 1999, 24.7% of Dutch children had bad experiences on the Internet, and 50%

in 2004 (Valkenburg & Soeters, 2001;Soeters & V.Schaik, 2006)

parental control
Parental control
  • Control by parents is scarce and their main concern is about the amount of time spent on-line.
  • Some parents have difficulty in controlling their children’s Internet use, as they are not computer literate themselves.
  • Adolescents (the older ones) are frequently alone at home and can do what they want without any supervision.
  • Very exceptionally, in the focus groups, cases emerged of parents installing filter programmes in their children’s computers*.
  • It seems that older adolescents consider it a sign of distrust on the parents’ part if they carry out activities of control, and youngsters feel pleased when their parents consider them responsible enough to look after themselves when they are surfing on the Internet.

* Contradiction: 44,9% of households with children have filters, INE, 2007

final reflections
Final Reflections
  • Youngsters view with indifference and tolerate violent contents on Internet, ranging from the least violent contents, such as Jackass videos, to the most violent contents.
  • They consider the virtual world to be an anonymous world, in which no one is responsible for the contents.
  • They always think that nobody is forcing them to enter a chat-room, to meet strangers, etc, if they do it, it is because they want to. And if they encounter problems, it’s because they have gone looking for them.
  • Youngsters admit that they conceal everything from their parents that they think their parents will disapprove of, or which their parents have forbidden.

62% Dutch children admit using secretly the computer at home, at school, and

in libraries, De Telegraph, 9-05-05, p.7