Public Papers


A generation of youth being ‚raised online’

by Katharina Kunze, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

According to the recently published research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), many young people are ‘brought up by the Internet’. They spend about 20 hours per week online, being connected with friends at social networking sites. For young people, the Internet and its opportunities is no innovation but a part of their everyday life. It makes it difficult for parents, pedagogues and adults in general to comprehend, because they clearly remember life before constant connectivity, broadband access and mobile phones as an everyday essential.

The access to the Internet by children and young people is usually unsupervised, which has implications for the extent to which they are able to engage in social online activities. These developments of changing access and the generational divide between parents and young people raise questions about the media literacy of parents and how they can be encouraged to deal with the challenge of the online behaviour of their children.

Kay Withers, ippr research fellow and report author found out, that young people have contradictory attitudes towards the Internet as well as to online privacy and safety. Therefore, it is essential to learn and understand how young people use the Internet and their attitudes towards their online activities. Ippr reports, Internet sites have community guidelines or codes for use policies, but they are not properly in force. For expample videos with violent content, which are even often watched by other users, are not put offline despite their own rules.

The report spells out the message, how important the collaboration between the government, parents and the industy is, to address online safety but not to restrict young people regarding the opportunities the Internet offers. Public policy can establish a framework; industry should improve the safety of their offerings to young people and co-operate with the government to develop new codes and a greater compliance. Media literacy projects and initiatives shall ensure the availability of comprehensive information to parents and adults at any time as well as to encourage them to get engaged in online activities with young people. Children and young people shall learn to create their own media and build greater critical skills towards information they access. They shall learn more about the consequences of their actions online. This could be achieved through extended schools programme.


Available on the website since April 07, 2008
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