SOCIETY

Children increasingly vulnerable online

children-increasingly-vulnerable-online

Greek children are unprotected from the traps of the internet, with one in three teens having been harassed online and one in four having received friend requests from strangers, according to a survey on internet safety. 

Moreover, the burden of responsibility also weighs heavily on parents, as seven out of 10 teenagers access social networks from a young age.

These were the alarming findings recorded in a survey conducted by the Greek Safer Internet Center of the Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas (FORTH) on a sample of 13,000 students aged 12-18 in about 500 schools in Attica, Thessaloniki, Evros, Ioannina, Iraklio and the Dodecanese islands.

More specifically, the survey found that 70% of children use social networks at an unacceptably low age. 

One in 10 elementary school pupils (12%) accepts friend requests from strangers. Among high school pupils, this percentage doubles to 24%.

One in 10 elementary school pupils and almost one in three high schoolers say they have met someone in person that they came into contact with online, while one in three high school students (33%) and 18% of elementary school pupils have been harassed via social media.

One in three children (32%) aged up to 12 years old do not know how to report or block someone on the internet.

In addition, 13% of high school pupils have shared very personal photos.

Tellingly, 10% of primary school pupils and 20% of high schoolers don’t inform their parents if something happens that will upset them on the internet.

Taking into account the research data and entrenched behaviors of children and adolescents, experts from FORTH and Google have compiled a list of tips for children, which would be good for parents and teachers to also be aware of.

The overarching message from experts is that it is very important for children to realize that the people and situations they encounter on the internet are not always what they appear to be.

Distinguishing between what is real and what isn’t is a very important defense for internet security. What’s more, guarding valuable information also helps children avoid situations that may damage their devices, their reputation or relationships.