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Online behaviour by children and adolescents

Information technology in everyday lives

Rapid development in the area of IT is also accompanied by very dynamic social development. Internet usage has become part and parcel of our everyday lives as well as having fundamentally changed our habits as regards information and communication. Information technology offers a wide variety of possibilities while simultaneously harbouring many risks and dangers. Apart from the phenomena associated with online crime and dangers such as phishing, botnets, gambling or similar, questionable behaviour by adolescents within virtual social networks has developed to become a challenge for parents and educators.

Social online networks
Social online networks "represent an extension and continuation of social space in a digital form". They are not only taken for granted as part of adolescents' social lives but have even become indispensable. Friendships are maintained and new contacts tapped in the virtual world. Adolescents utilise digital chat rooms for exchanging information, as homework aids, for discussions or simply for chatting.
Children and adolescents are not always aware of the serious sustainability of their own injurious actions ("the digital world never forgets"). Nor are they always capable of estimating the risks and potential dangers confronting them on the Net. Therefore, it is important to encourage digital competence while simultaneously sensitising users as regards the risks and dangers.

A 2010 study conducted in 25 European countries by the EU Kids Online research association revealed:
93% of the 25,142 representatively selected children aged 9 to 16 use the Internet at least once a week.
60% use the Internet almost every day.
Children start using the Internet in Europe when aged between 7 and 9.

User behaviour:
85% of children and adolescents use the Internet for learning.
83% use it for playing games.
76% use it for watching video clips.
62% use Instant Messaging services.
39% use the Internet for sharing photos and messages.
31% use a Webcam.
16% participate in file sharing.
11% are active in Weblogs.

Social networks:
59% of all 9 to 16-year olds have generated a profile in at least one social network (26% of 9 to 10-year olds / 82% of 15 to 16-year olds).
26% of children and adolescents have not specified who can read or see details about their families and friends.
Personal details thus made available to anyone can lead to precarious situations.

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Lost in Cyber World is a project by IN VIA Katholische Mädchensozialarbeit für das Erzbistum Berlin e.V.