Partners of the project EU Kids Online, with the Association for Communication and Media Culture at the forefront, as well as the Agency for Electronic Media and Hrvatski Telekom, have launched today the first comparative research at the national level on media consumption habits by children and their parents, as well as on child Internet safety. It is a unique corporate social responsibility partnership on the international project EU Kids Online in the area of research on the issue of media use by children, through which Croatia will be compliant with the international standard of monitoring child Internet safety.
The research will last until the end of October, and it will include 1,000 children aged between 9 and 17 years old, as well as their parents or custodians. The research will focus both on the advantages and risks of the use of the Internet, and it will establish the intensity of Internet use concerning age and socio-economic characteristics of children. Moreover, it will provide a deeper insight into the role of parents, teachers, and the environment in protection and education of children on the Internet.
"We in Hrvatski Telekom, which is a frontrunner in the digitalisation of the economy, as well as of the entire society, believe a significant breakthrough needs to be made jointly towards the improvement in the level of Internet safety, especially of children, against the backdrop of the digital society. We have consequently launched a corporate social responsibility campaign "Share the Positive, Block the Negative" that has brought together the academic community, the non-governmental sector, and state institutions, and this research is its integral part. We will continue with investment in education of our users, as well as with continuous presentation of new products and services intended to increase the level of Internet safety", pointed out Nina Išek Međugorac, Director of Corporate Communications in Hrvatski Telekom.
The Agency for Electronic Media has been continuously working on promotion of media literacy, and it has launched the Internet portal medijskapismenost.hr in co-operation with its partners. The participation in the project EU Kids Online is a continuation of activities performed in the area of media literacy.
"Children, primarily those over 12 years old, independently and frequently without any parental control use different media platforms, which are either under mild or under no regulatory regime. Consequently, research, primarily comprehensive research such as EU Kids Online, is extremely important in order to gain insight into media consumption habits amongst new generations, as well as to establish the potential threats that children are exposed to in the world of the digital media. Media literacy certainly is considered an effective protection from such potentially harmful media contents and primarily concerning its fundamental feature – development of critical thinking, as one of the crucial skills required for life in a modern, mediated society", noted Robert Tomljenović, Vice-President of the Council for Electronic Media.
Conducting this research is vital for establishing national guidelines for safe Internet usage, preparation of educational materials both for children and their parents, as well as for the creation of both national and local educational policies. The research will exert a significant impact also on the activity of a large number of stakeholders involved in protection of children’s rights on the Internet, as well as in promotion of critical thinking, or raising awareness about the threats and opportunities of online exposure of children and youth.
"During the last several years, different stakeholders in Croatia have been pointing out the media exposure of both children and youth, stressing the opportunities for abuse and threats they face in the online world. This will be the first time that we will be given the opportunity of a comprehensive insight into media consumption habits of our children and youth, and it will also provide us with a landmark opportunity to comprehend the proportions of parental responsibility and to compare this data with other EU Member States. It is hence a unique research project that is intended to exert a huge influence also on our educational policies", noted the National Co-ordinator of EU Kids On-line research, Igor Kanižaj, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Vice-President of Association for Communication and Media Culture and an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science.
The key findings of the research will be presented in November, and they will subsequently be submitted to the Ministry of Science and Education, as well as to the leaders acting as frontrunners of the curricular reform in order to provide assistance in the creation of a new educational policy.
The partners in this research are the Association for Communication and Media Culture, the Agency for Electronic Media, Hrvatski Telekom, the City of Zagreb (Većeslava Holjevca Primary School), The Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM), the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as Safer Internet Centre. It is important to highlight the fact that the project is supported by the Ministry of Science and Education and the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy.
The research partners will declare November "Month of Child Safety on the Internet". The activities will focus on promotion of research findings and expert advice concerning the promotion of child safety on the Internet, as well as the requirement of the creation of new educational policy that will adequately increase the level of child safety and media literacy in the digital sphere. The final research findings will be publicly presented and analysed during a roundtable discussion, which will be held to mark the International Children’s Rights Day.
About project partners:
The Association for Communication and Media Culture
The Association for Communication and Media Culture was founded aiming to improve both media and communication culture through systematic educational programmes about the media. Through the project entitled the Children of the Media it has thus far held 600 workshops addressing the issue of media literacy for 12,000 participants. The project entitled Children of the Media brings together over 100 members and volunteers and it has won a prestigious European prize awarded by Evens Foundation, the leading promoter of media literacy education in the EU.
The Agency for Electronic Media
The Agency for Electronic Media, as electronic media regulatory authority in the Republic of Croatia, continuously performs activities intended to raise the public awareness about the importance of media literacy, and it hence implements projects striving to provide assistance, advice, and tools for the acquisition of media literacy skills, primarily focusing on children and their parents. In 2016, the Agency for Electronic Media launched a website www.medijskapismenost.hr<http://www.medijskapismenost.hr>, and it also provided "Recommendations for the Protection of Children and Safe Use of Electronic Media", only to proceed with a media campaign entitled "Let’s Choose What We Watch", and organised workshops addressing the issue of media literacy.
Većeslava Holjevca Primary School (City of Zagreb)
Većeslava Holjevca Primary School has integrated the education about media literacy in its curriculum and into a considerable number of school subjects, whereas media culture and Internet safety issues are tackled through a wide range of curricular and extra-curricular projects. The pupils attending this school tackle the issue of safety on the Internet through different projects, whereas both children and their parents are educated about media culture through active co-operation with parents.
The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children/Safer Internet Centre (CSI)
The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has been actively involved in education of children about safety on the Internet since 2007 and the publishing of the first educational brochure, as well as delivering of a large number of lectures throughout primary schools. Safer Internet Centre (CSI) is a project co-ordinated by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, supported by the European Commission. Safer Internet Centre implements a broad range of training programmes and manages the Helpline service for reporting and providing help concerning all forms of harmful contacts (grooming), behaviour (Internet abuse, i.e. cyber bullying), and the contents that children and young people are exposed to on the Internet.
The Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM)
The Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries HAKOM is a national regulatory authority for electronic communication markets, as well as postal and railway services, whose principal task includes informing and protection of users of these services. Children are currently independent users of electronic communications services, which HAKOM primarily focuses on, in addition to the promotion of child safety on the Internet. In co-operation with other partners, it has been participating for years in the marking of the Safer Internet Day, as well as in the promotion of child safety on the Internet. Furthermore, 2016, in co-operation with the Ministry of Science and Education, it launched the programme of preparation and delivery of brochures about safe and responsible behaviour on the Internet to one generation of pupils on an annualised level, and it has been implementing it ever since.