Study on interaction risks on the Internet: Children between protection and participation

Children and young people need measures in social media offerings and online games to protect them from interaction risks such as bullying and cybergrooming. To find out how children and young people view and deal with these, the JFF - Institute for Media Education in Research and Practice conducted a qualitative study on behalf of the German Children's Fund.

Children want messengers as a secure means of communication, especially with friends, family and acquaintances. On social media and especially in online games, they express greater openness to contact with strangers. At the same time, they have a high need for protection against aggressive interactions, unwanted contacts and negative contact experiences here. Children know many ways to avoid these risks. They rarely mention institutional support channels such as contact points in schools or on the Internet. In addition, they sometimes have to weigh up whether these support options serve not only their need for protection but also their need to participate, or whether they even conflict with the latter. This is exacerbated when protection options are lacking or conditions for action are not transparent.

These are the central findings of the recently published qualitative study "Online Interaction Risks from the Perspective of Nine to Thirteen Year Olds", which the JFF - Institute for Media Education in Research and Practice conducted on behalf of the German Children's Fund .

The study investigates how adolescents who use social media or online games deal with the risks of online interaction. The study asked who they interact with in which online environments, how they perceive and assess interaction risks, what experiences they have in this regard, what options for action and support are available to them, and how they evaluate them. The study uses qualitative research methods. For this purpose, individual interviews were conducted, which were supplemented by brief parent interviews, as well as online survey workshops. These workshops focused on the assessment of options for action and support in relation to potentially risky online contacts with strangers.

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