More and more children have access to the internet. Surfing the web can be a wonderful experience but also one fraught with danger, and not all parents and educators are aware that children can be exposed to unsuitable content online. Another question rises, and that is what is disturbing for children online? Are there gender and age differences and very important what do children do when they encounter disturbing or harmful information? Aims to discuss this issue.
This paper explores the positive and negative experiences of Dutch children on the web. It is based on a survey of 391 children aged eight to 13 years who have home access to the internet.
Children's most common positive experiences are playing games, using ICQ or MSN and chatting. Almost 50 percent of the respondents have had a negative experience on the internet. Children most frequently reported encountering pornography, followed by violence, computer viruses and/or their computers crashing. Approximately 80 percent told someone else about their negative experience, and, although it might be expected that this was a parent or a teacher, 45 percent of the children shared their experience with a friend.
Only by knowing these facts can one start thinking about how one can make the Internet a safer place for children.
The survey also revealed several significant age and/or gender differences in how children experience the internet.
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