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EU research on the use of SNS by Children Dr Leslie Haddon EU Kids Online Meeting on European Social Networking Taskforce, Brussels, 26 th June, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "EU research on the use of SNS by Children Dr Leslie Haddon EU Kids Online Meeting on European Social Networking Taskforce, Brussels, 26 th June, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

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2 EU research on the use of SNS by Children Dr Leslie Haddon EU Kids Online Meeting on European Social Networking Taskforce, Brussels, 26 th June, 2008

3 Examples of academic research: Europe Surveys looking at frequencies in relation to social networking sites: e.g. Denmark, Ireland, UK Studies including social networking: e.g. Norway, UK, Italy, Belgium Qualitative studies of specific social networking sites: e.g. Estonia, Denmark

4 Examples of academic research: Europe Other qualitative studies: e.g. UK (styles and privacy), France (emergence of networks), Estonia (content creation) Other quantitative: e.g. The Netherlands (self-esteem), Cyprus (personal information online)

5 Youth interest in Social Networking Sites Overlap with young people’s offline interests hanging out, flirting, trying to build social status, deciding what image they want to present (Boyd)

6 Youth activities online Building own profiles (present self to peers) Visiting other profiles (to see how others present themselves) Commenting on profiles, photos etc (often positive, reciprocated) Important for self-confidence, self-identity, self-esteem (Netherlands)

7 Authentic vs. fake profiles Hence, many of the profiles are authentic, even if presenting themselves in a good light Sometimes there is great criticism of fake profiles (e.g. Denmark) BUT: Some youth themselves create fake profiles (as identity play)

8 Example You can pretend to be anyone, you can trick someone. A friend of mine told someone she was gay! We could do anything and we changed our name and someone thought we were boys and we were gay and we played a trick on this girl - Girl 15, UK

9 Negative communications Various national studies stress how much communication is positive (e.g. Denmark, France, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Estonia) Only a minority of actions on SNS were ‘negative’ e.g. following arguments offline between peers, ex-boy/girlfriends, teasing by posting ‘embarrassing’ pictures

10 Online continues offline From the countries where we have research, most social networking sites are used by youth to communicate with known people, usually peers (e.g. Norway, Denmark, UK, Estonia, Ireland) E.g. (UK) 92% mainly use sites to stay in touch with friends, family they see a lot

11 Adding friends One practice, is competing to add friends to the friends list - as a sign of popularity BUT, this does sometimes mean adding ‘friends’ who young people have not meant offline (Ireland, UK) Even if privacy settings are set to private, it means these strangers have access to profiles

12 Making new friends – and age Although not the main use, some young people did use SNS to make new friends E.g. 12% of youth in an Irish survey said this was the main aim: 20% of year olds say this as the main aim vs. 9% of the year olds

13 Contact with strangers 17% ‘talk to people I don’t know’ on SNS (OfCom, UK) Meeting people only known via SNS – no figures, but the OfCom qualitative study noted that some young people mitigated risks by meeting in public places and bringing friends. For some it was ‘free online dating’

14 Background to privacy issues Young people spend a lot of time in adult supervised spaces (school, many parts of the home, after school activities, etc) and this may be increasing But space for unmonitored peer interaction is valued This is part of the appeal of the Internet and SNS

15 Privacy issues Hence privacy is valued – from adults, especially parents! (e.g. Norway, UK) Privacy is considered – e.g. what to put on the profile (Livingstone, 2008) But putting up some things in the profile that are personal is also a means to gaining intimacy

16 Privacy issues Hence, they may be aware of adults online, but they put up details anyway That said, US research shows that many do take some precautions e.g. putting some fake details on profiles, not giving details that would allow a stranger to locate them

17 Privacy issues What adults think should be private is not necessarily what young people think should be private Various studies indicate information that young people give out: (e.g. Ireland) 8% home address, 12% mobile phone, 49% date of birth

18 Privacy settings Mixed picture in Europe (in the UK, 41% of youth had profiles set to public) There could be problems understanding settings (OfCom, Livingstone in the UK) But part of the decision to leave the settings public can be the desire to be visible to other teenagers (Boyd)

19 Parental rules In general, most studies suggest that parents do not know much about SNS 65% parents say the set rules about their children’s use of SNS, 53% of children said the parents set rules (OfCom, UK) Two main types of rule – meeting new people (30%), giving out personal details (27%) (parents’ figures)

20 Young children (OfCom UK) 27% of 8-11 year olds claim to have a profile on a site Some sites cater for younger children, but most have minimum age that is higher The qualitative study confirmed ‘underage’ use In addition: 15% of 6-11 have used Bebo, 4% have used Facebook, 8% have used MySpace (Nielsen, August 2007, in the Ofcom report)


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