In 2010 for the first time ever Russia joined the international research project EU Kids Online and is conducting its own research project “Russian Kids Online.” The study is jointly conducted by the Department of psychology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Federal Institute of Education Development under the RF Ministry of Education and Science, and the Foundation for Internet Development on the basis of the EU Kids Online research project methodology. The survey covered 7 Federal okrugs of Russia. Overall, as many as 1,025 pairs “parent-child” were interviewed. Data collection and processing of was sponsored by the Technical Center of Internet.
Galina Soldatova, director of the Foundation for Internet Development, corresponding member of RAO and Professor of psychology department of MSU and the project coordinator, reported interim findings of the Russian research project at the workshop “Kids in the Internet: Russia, Europe and the World” which was held on 15 December at the RIA “Novosti”.
Preliminary research findings indicate that Russian children go on-line at an age older than their European peers, with the nationwide average age being 10 years, vis-à-vis 9 years in Europe. However, Russian schoolchildren are more active Internet users and, unfortunately, are riskier ones.
One of risk factors that most Russian children go on-line on their own. A average of 80% of kids across Russia have access to the Internet in their bedrooms by using separate computers and via mobile phones, ie in situations where parents fail to control them. Meanwhile, European children more often have access to the Internet from computers they share with other family members or at schools. Another uneasy factor is the time spent online. Over one-fourth of kids stay online between 7 and 14 hours per week, ie between 1 and 2 hours per day, each sixth child – between 14 and 21 hours per week. At the same time, each fifth child stays online over 21 hours per week, which practically equals day and night. A fraction of these children really “live in the Internet” – they spend on-line from two to three days a week.
Over 80% of Russian teenagers run a special network account and nearly each sixth one boasts of having over 100 friends, while 4% of children boast of having over 300 friends at social websites. As many as 29% of European children boast of having between 100 and 300-plus friends at social websites. Russian kids are very communicative. They meet on-line and communicate with Internet friends as often as with real-life ones in. Half of the children meet with new people on-line, who is riskier and 40% of children subsequently meet in person with their online friends.
For more detailed research findings, please check out the booklet (Part 1 and Part 2).
It is symbolic that this research, which addresses issues of specialization and safety of the upcoming digital generation in Russia’s emerging information society and which is of high importance for the state is co-sponsored by ICT organizations and companies. For example, Komstar-OTS sponsored the workshop and the Technical Center of Internet -the study. This means that the business community takes pains at creating a safer digital environment allowing kids and teenagers to feel protected.
About the EU Kids Online project:
The EU Kids Online research project is conducted in European countries for the second time. The inception research project was conducted in 2006-2009 and covered 21 European countries. The research provided parents, teachers and public at-large with a huge mass of relevant information on how children aged 9-16 years behaved online, what risks they faced and what should be done in order to have young users feel protected in the Internet. The study has an important practical dimension: it forms the basis for conduct of trainings on safety online rules for children, which has already bore fruit. Initial findings of the EU Kids Online project II conducted between 2009 and 2011 demonstrated that, for example, the number of children who meet in person with their online friends was down to 8%.
EU Kids Online II already involves 25 countries including Eastern European ones. Research findings showed that the level of online risks in the Slavic countries is higher than on the average one in Europe. It was stressed that consequences of children’s online experiences might be positive and negative and that young users needed to be “looked- after” and their life online should be taken care of as much as their contacts and relations in “real” life are.
For detailed information on Europe, check out the journal “Children in the Information Society”, №6, and the London School of Economics website.