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UNICEF Innocenti 2016 Results Report now available

(31 March 2016) The following is UNICEF Innocenti Director Sarah Cook’s foreword to our 2016 Results Report. Download the report to get the full story of our work last year.2016 saw significant achievements across all areas of Innocenti’s work, delivered by our committed team of researchers, analysts, communications and operations specialists, working in collaboration with a wide range of partners – from UNICEF country offices and their local counterparts, to colleagues in headquarters, UNICEF National Committees, academic institutions around the world, and our host, Istituto degli Innocenti, together with other partners in Italy.Following leadership changes in 2015, the Office looked to 2016 as a year for consolidation of recent progress and expansion, continued implementation of an ambitious research agenda, and delivery of significant publications, events and impacts. We can look back with satisfaction at progress made in many areas of concern for UNICEF and for children. At the same time, from our location in Italy, we saw at close hand the effects of conflict and crisis, driving a wave of refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean – creating urgent demands for evidence to which we have responded with a new programme of research on children in contexts of migration, displacement and conflict.Evidence of the impact of our research and its uptake within and beyond the organization is visible at multiple levels – from the work of country and regional offices, to influence on government policies and global debates, incorporating children or child-related concerns into academic research and policy. Detailed examples can be found in the pages of this report. They include: national policy changes flowing from research on violence and bullying; replication and scaling-up of parenting programmes based on evidence; generating the evidence base on how children use the internet as a basis for understanding both opportunities and risks, as well as identifying key regulatory gaps in relation to children and the internet, data and privacy; and synthesizing research findings on adolescence through a series of Digests to support programming in the field. The influence of Innocenti’s long-term research project that evaluates cash transfer (and increasingly ‘cash-plus’) programmes across sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow. This collaborative initiative has provided detailed evidence to national governments and UNICEF offices to support the introduction and scaling-up of transfers, while also busting myths about the impacts of cash (for example, on fertility or dependence) and demonstrating impacts of cash in areas such as adolescent health and wellbeing, violence and safe transitions to adulthood.A key role of the Office of Research–Innocenti is to foster the generation and use of good quality research and evidence across UNICEF. Led by the Research Facilitation Team at Innocenti, the past year has seen the establishment of a strong research governance framework for UNICEF. In February, the UNICEF Policy for Research was approved by the Executive Director. This sets out key principles, standards, accountabilities and coordination mechanisms for research across the organization, complementing existing procedures and guidelines on quality assurance and ethics. Innocenti staff have worked closely with regional and country Offices to provide technical support and undertake training programmes on research and knowledge management. For the fourth year in succession, the Best of UNICEF Research drew attention to some of the outstanding research produced or in collaboration with UNICEF staff around the world.Supporting these efforts towards broader engagement and impact, 2016 also saw major steps forward in Innocenti’s communications with the redesign of our website, a more regular e-newsletter, blogs and more adventurous use of social media – all of which help to share research findings, stimulate debate and engage a wider audience.Also in support of partnerships and impact, the Office is capitalizing on its location and convening capacity to create a vibrant space for debate on critical issues for children. Meetings hosted included a session with Council of Europe Parliamentarians, a consultation of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Children, WHO’s Child Friendly Hospitals initiative and an expert group meeting on social protection and violence in childhood. Events with UNICEF colleagues included the annual DREAM meeting of Data, Research, Evaluation and Monitoring staff, the Social Inclusion team network meeting, and a training course on public finance for children.Building on these achievements, we enter 2017 in a strong position for achieving ambitious goals. We look forward to working with colleagues across UNICEF in developing a research agenda aligned with the new strategic plan, and to further strengthening our capacities and those of UNICEF in a broader sense, in generating and using knowledge to achieve positive change for children. 
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A new study reviews the impacts of child labour policies

(22 March 2017) Common social policy interventions can reduce child labor, but may also have unintended consequences. A new study called Effects of Public Policy on Child Labor summarizes the evidence on the relationship between policy interventions and child labor, highlights gaps in our understanding of this relationship, and discusses implications for program design. The paper was prepared by researchers at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Carleton University, the  International Labour Organization, and the  World Bank. Building on a literature review, the study examines how social protection programs and labor market policies affect child labor supply. “A few results stand out. Programs that reduce poverty and increase resilience in the face of economic shocks, such as cash transfer programs, tend to increase household investment in education and reduce reliance on children for income generation,” said Jacob de Hoop, Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Innocenti and one of the new study’s authors. Effects of programs that also increase the labor supply of adult household members are harder to predict. While these policies may increase household income, they may also increase children’s return to work. Adults who participate in public works programs, for instance, may rely on their children to take over some economic activities and household chores.  According to de Hoop, “Most interventions can have offsetting effects on the complex intra-household decision making process that determines child labor supply. We therefore turned to the empirical literature to better understand the key pathways through which common policy interventions affect child labor and to aggregate lessons for program types.” The study suggests that programs that may potentially increase child labor supply could be modified to avoid adverse effects. Rigorous evidence on potential modifications, such as making child labor a more salient issue for program beneficiaries, would be useful.The authors further note that there are questions around the implications of policy-induced changes in child labor supply for child wellbeing. Some forms of work can be innocuous or beneficial to the child, while other forms may be harmful. Yet, few studies examine detrimental (or beneficial) aspects of child work, such as excessive working hours and exposure to work-related hazards.A US Department of Labor funded research initiative at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti aims to address some of these challenging outstanding questions, building on data collected as part of the Transfer Project in Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. 
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Parenting interventions are effective when transported from one country to another

(17 March 2017) There is strong evidence that behavioural parenting programmes improve caregiver-child relationships, reduce child problem behaviour, and prevent physical and emotional violence against children. Many governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, which address child maltreatment and youth problem behaviour, are promoting widespread roll-out of parenting programmes. A new Innocenti Research Brief, Parenting Interventions: How well do they transport from one country to another? , written by Professor Frances Gardner of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, summarizes her team’s recent findings from two global, systematic reviews ( here and here) of the effectiveness of parenting interventions. UNICEF offices have become increasingly interested in introducing parenting support into their programming, with a focus ranging from violence prevention to early childhood development. To date, the majority of evaluations that show the effects of parenting programmes are from high-income countries, although there is a growing list of rigorous, randomized trials from low- and middle-income countries, including Indonesia, Iran, Liberia and Panama. UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti has worked on research related to support for families and parents since 2013. In particular, Innocenti supported research on the Sinovuyo Caring Families Programme for parents and Teens, by partnering with Oxford University in doing qualitative research that examined service delivery mechanisms and implications for taking it to scale. This study complemented the randomized control trial. As interest in parenting programmes grows, policymakers, service providers and others are faced with a range of decisions, including whether to import an intervention from another country or region (which may have very different cultural values), or whether to develop one locally. We use the term ‘transport’ to refer to moving a programme from one country to another. Developing a new programme is time-consuming and costly. Established parenting programmes – those with the best evidence of effectiveness – have been designed using decades’ worth of knowledge and behavioural research. The two recent reviews summarized in the new Innocenti Research Brief investigated the transportability of parenting interventions. The first looked at whether interventions are effective when they are transported from one country to another, and whether differences in cultural factors or family policy regimes could influence effectiveness. The second tested directly whether locally developed or transported programmes are more effective. Findings of the same review suggested that interventions transported from the United States and Australia to other high-income countries in a largely European or North American cultural context, showed comparable effect sizes to those in the country of origin. However, effect sizes were higher when the same interventions were transported to regions that were culturally more distant: Asia; Latin America; and the Middle East.  
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Impact of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme on women’s empowerment

(9 March 2017) Despite the potential of cash transfers to empower women, the evidence supporting this outcome is not conclusive, especially from programs at scale in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors of a new study, Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program, have conducted a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged zero to five. The results show a number of positive linkages between social cash transfers and different measures of women’s empowerment. UNICEF Innocenti researchers, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill authored the paper under the Transfer Project initiative, with support from UNICEF Zambia. The paper was published in the academic journal World Development in advance of International Women’s Day. The quantitative component of the study was a four-year longitudinal clustered-randomized control trial in three rural districts, and the qualitative component was a one-time data collection involving in-depth interviews with women and their partners stratified on marital status and program participation. The study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole or joint decisions (across five out of nine domains); however, impacts translated into relatively modest increases in the number of decision domains a woman is involved in. Women’s narratives captured through qualitative measures showed the cash transfer increased financial empowerment as they were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. “I have also been empowered because of the child grant. I never used to have my own money, but now even as I suggest something to my husband I don’t feel worthless because I have money in my hands. It is my first time to experience such; I am really empowered.” Female, beneficiary, married, age 24 Results show potential for unconditional cash transfer programs to improve the financial and intra-household status of female beneficiaries, however it is likely that additional design components are need for transformational change. The evaluation is of particular interest, as it uses a large-scale, government-run program, instead of temporary pilot program implemented by a non-governmental organization. In addition, the authors are are able to make conclusions based on a relatively long period of programme receipt (four years), therefore overcoming limitations of other studies, which may examine only shorter-term impacts. Finally, the combination of quantitative and qualitative data makes it possible to interrogate the concept of women’s empowerment and assess if quantitative measures of decision making, commonly used in the literature to proxy for bargaining power, are likely to capture the intended concept assigned by researchers. This study is important for governments, policy makers, and program implementers who are engaged in social cash transfers for poverty reduction. On one hand, the study contributes to quantitative evidence that suggests the Zambia Child Grant Program positively affected women’s decision making, however due to existing gender norms, impacts on sole and joint decision making translated into relatively minor actual shifts. In addition, the research highlights methodological challenges associated with equating commonly used decision making quantitative indicators with ‘empowerment’ more broadly. Thus, authors conclude that programmes such as the Child Grant Programme realize beneficial gendered impacts, but fail to shift gender norms in a transformational way.  Read more about Innocenti’s social cash transfer work here, including a blog and research brief on gender and cash transfers. 
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Towards a clearer understanding of gender socialization in adolescence

(8 March 2017) Outcomes for  women in employment, education, social protection, politics, science and many  other areas of well-being, lag far behind those for men. This inequality often starts in childhood and holds across the life course. In many places in the world, girls are born into a context of inequality and have limited opportunities to change their situation. The process of ‘gender socialization’ – the way people learn to behave according to internalized gender norms as they become actors in society – and the many factors that influence it, contribute greatly to unequal outcomes for girls and women across the world. Working with the  International Center for Research on Women, UNICEF Innocenti has just published a discussion paper: Gender socialization during adolescence in low- and middle-income countries which provides an overview of the gender socialization process from its basic theoretical foundations to contemporary programme interventions that aim to influence it. The new discussion paper has been published by UNICEF Innocenti today in honor of  International Women’s Day 2017, which this year carries the theme of Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 . The aim is to focus on achieving gender equality in the labour force globally, recognizing it as an “ imperative for sustainable development.” “As a starting point, we wanted to gain a better understanding of gender socialization by writing a well-researched discussion paper to explore theories from key disciplines (psychology, sociology, biology). Our aim was to capture what these disciplines say about gender socialization and its influences and outcomes by developing a socio-ecological framework which could be used to guide programmes and policy-making,” said UNICEF Innocenti's Nikola Balvin, who supervised the project. Defining gender socialization The new paper's extensive literature review allowed the authors to develop a comprehensive definition of gender socialization: "a process by which individuals develop, refine and learn to ‘do’ gender through internalizing gender norms and roles as they interact with key agents of socialization, such as their family, social networks and other social institutions.” But just what does this mean in everyday life? “Gender socialization begins to take place as soon as children are born and sometimes even in utero. In most contexts, parents and family members treat boys and girls differently. They may dress them in different colours or buy them different toys and as they get older, they may punish and reward differently, give them different household duties, provide different opportunities to go to school, socialize with friends and so on. As children get older, the list of people who communicate what constitutes appropriate gender behaviour to them expands beyond the family and includes, peers, teachers, community leaders, public figures and many more,” says Balvin. Children do not remain passive in this process and themselves internalize gender identities and enforce norms and expectations in their interaction with others. Gender socialization during adolescence Being the bridge between childhood and adulthood, adolescence is the critical period where many of the outcomes of gender inequality manifest or intensify. Disadvantages experienced by adolescent girls include harmful practices and negative outcomes such as child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, teenage pregnancy, school drop out, and a high prevalence of HIV. (UNICEF, 2014; WHO, 2016)  Adolescence is also a period when along with rapid physical, sexual and brain development, the  shaping of gender beliefs and attitudes intensifies. UNICEF and others have come to see adolescence as a “second window of opportunity” to redirect negative trajectories from childhood and start new ones that lead to positive outcomes for girls and boys, and later in life women and men. The discussion paper also includes a rapid review of gender socialization interventions aimed at adolescence. It identifies 31 such evaluated programmes and groups the strategies they employed to make recommendations for more holistic programming. Structural factors and gender socialization “Programme interventions usually focus on individuals and communities and we wanted to make sure that the bigger picture within which gender socialization is shaped does not get left out,” said Balvin about the paper’s objective to review societal level factors such as migration, fertility, global media and socio-economic development. The paper recognizes the importance of the labour force in achieving more equal gender power relations. In low- and middle-income countries the global economy has resulted in more women entering the work force, shifting women’s work location outside the household, going from unpaid to paid employment and urban migration where women and men may be exposed to more progressive gender norms, etc. However, the opportunities presented by economic growth are usually mediated by patriarchal social forces that negatively impact on women in the work-force: the type of work they do, the work load they may be burdened with, unequal pay and conditions, all making the world of work a significant contributor to unbalanced gender norms and values.  “The paper spends a lot of time unpacking the macro, meso and micro factors that influence gender socialization during adolescence to provide a comprehensive understanding of the process and guide a more integrated approach to making decisions about programmes and policies to achieve gender equality and… sustainable development.” 
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Experimental Panel Data on the Government of Kenya’s Unconditional Cash Transfer Released

(7 March 2017) Research that is open, available and transparent for academics, implementers, donors and the public includes ensuring that data is free and accessible. This push for ‘open science’ and promoting openness in research is expected to encourage increased knowledge generation, collaboration, diffusion of results and replication, among others. With this vision in mind, the longitudinal evaluation data from the Government of Kenya’s Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) has just been released. This is the first data to be released through the Transfer Project, a joint partnership between national governments and UNICEF Country Offices, FAO, Save the Children UK and the University of North Carolina, including a core set of researchers from the UNICEF Office of Research--Innocenti.The Government of Kenya supported the release of the three-wave household panel of data collected in 2007, 2009 and 2011 as part of a cluster randomized controlled trial, to evaluate the impact of Kenya’s CT-OVC programme. The data package contains primary datasets from individual/household surveys and community surveys. There are also several supplementary datasets that provide additional information on tracking and attrition. Although topics addressed vary slightly across the surveys, all three waves contain information on topics including consumption and expenditure, health, education, and productivity of recipient (treatment group) and non-recipient households (comparison group).Evaluation data has been used to understand how unconditional cash transfers have benefited poor households, communities and through which channels impacts have been realized. Over the four years of the evaluation period, the programme had impacts on household expenditure and poverty, food consumption and increased human capital of school-age children and time preferences of adults. Additionally, during the critical time of youth transitioning to adulthood, the programme delayed sexual debut, reduced the likelihood of early pregnancy and reduced odds of depressive symptoms among youth in beneficiary households. Evaluation findings have contributed to the scale-up of the programme, now reaching over 360,000 households nationally.By making the research data open, the measurement data and the source codes that produced results are now made available. This benefits researchers who can reanalyse the data and the findings, and may even be encouraged to carry out new, innovative research. Providing access to the data also appeals to donors who allocate public funding to research: if the public paid for the data collection, there should be open, public access to this information.Currently, steps are being taken by the Transfer Project to prepare more collected data for release. The Project has recognized from its inception the centrality of openly sharing information to facilitate learning and achieve its goal of informing better design and implementation of social protection programmes. All project partners are committed to the importance of this project as a public good and to the promotion of learning in the region, and beyond. For each of the cash transfer programmes, the project aims to make data, instruments and evaluation reports open and accessible.See the Transfer Project webpage for more information on the Kenya CT-OVC programme and research findings, and the Innocenti webpage for more information on cash transfer work at the Office of Research—Innocenti. 
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High level meeting on raising children without violence in Montenegro

(28 February 2017) Renowned international experts recently took centre stage during the End Violence conference in Podgorica, Montenegro. Frances Gardner, professor of Child and Family Psychology at Oxford University, Nadine Burke Harris, paediatrician globally known for her innovative approach to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Susan Bissell, Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, among many others highlighted the meeting.Professor Gardner gave a key note address in which she shared recent evidence on the effectiveness of parenting programmes and how they transport across cultures. Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF Innocenti child protection specialist, chaired a special panel discussion on new efforts to support parents in Montenegro. She presented examples from global policies and practices and emphasised the need for continuous evidence-building and integration of parenting support in all sectors such as health, education and child welfare and protection.  “In order to ensure the sustainability of these programmes it is important to set up a national framework that enables their development, accreditation and monitoring,” said Byrne, “Such an approach entails collaboration of all levels of society and community, both the civil society organisations and professional associations, who are main providers of services to families, and statutory bodies that have a mandate to protect children from violence and family separation.”The conference was organized as part of UNICEF's global “END Violence“ campaign. Montenegro joined this global campaign in July 2016. The first phase of the campaign focused on the online violence, while the second phase will also address protection of children from violence in the family and other types of environments. “Violence and adversity in childhood, including neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse or dysfunctional parenting, undermine child-parents relationship with devastating consequences for the individual victim, for the community and the society“, Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Montenegro Representative pointed out, adding that “We now have overwhelming evidence that adversity and poor attachment in childhood results in much worse life-time outcomes in health, education, employment and often criminality and violence“.UNICEF Montenegro research published in December 2016 found generally low awareness among Montenegrins about what constitutes violence, as well as high tolerance towards violence. One in two believe corporal punishment of children is acceptable and that yelling at a child is not a form of violence. Moreover, one third think that slapping and threatening children are not forms of violence, and a quarter do not recognize blackmailing as violence in the upbringing of children. A wide majority (77 per cent) believe that parents should not allow children to question their decisions.The “End Violence“ conference, initiated by the Government of Montenegro and UNICEF, aims to spark a fresh public debate on violence against children in Montenegro to raise awareness that raising children without violence does not equate to permissiveness. It aims to support parents to adopt the best parenting practices in order to raise children without violence and to ensure that they grow up as healthy, secure adults. High level officials from the Montenegrin central Government, the European Union and Montenegrin line ministries also attended the conference. Find more information on UNICEF Innocenti's research on family and parenting support and the drivers of violence affecting children. 
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New exhibition at Museo degli Innocenti celebrates UNICEF’s 70th anniversary

(24 February 2017) To commemorate the 70th anniversary of UNICEF’s founding in 1946 the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti and the Istituto degli Innocenti have opened a new historical exhibition titled UNICEF 70 years for every child, covering seven decades of the organization’s work for the world’s children. The exhibition, originally produced for a major UNICEF headquarters event in New York has been adapted and translated for the Italian public and hosted in the temporary exhibition space of the Museo degli Innocenti. The exhibition is open free of cost to the public until 18 March 2017. "Seventy years ago, UNICEF came to Europe, and to Italy, to bring emergency aid to children affected by the devastation of World War II; and over the last seven decades UNICEF has grown into the world's largest organization for children," said Sarah Cook, director of the Office of Research - Innocenti. "Today, after 70 years, it is fitting that we open this beautiful exhibit at Museo degli Innocenti in the presence of key partners and friends who have contributed so much to UNICEF’s success.” The Italian Government invited UNICEF to establish a centre of research and study at Ospedale degli Innocenti in the late 1980s. Today the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti is the global organization’s research coordination office. It’s main areas of investigation concern child poverty and well-being, the impact of cash transfers on disadvantaged families in Africa, drivers of violence affecting children, child migration, adolescent well-being, parenting support, education and child rights in the digital age. “The collaboration between the Italian Government and UNICEF was enshrined by law in 1988," said Maria Grazia Giuffrida, President of Istituto degli Innocenti. "The UNCEF Office of Research – Innocenti has been hosted in the Istituto degli Innocenti for almost 30 years. This partnership is very important for children and the activities we have carried out together, including on children in armed conflict, child friendly cities, the Innocenti Library.” Also speaking at the exhibition opening was Giacomo Guerrera, President of the UNICEF National Committee for Italy based in Rome. The Italian Committee for UNICEF was founded in 1974 and has become one of the largest donors to UNICEF programmes around the world. UNICEF's work, sometimes under extremely difficult circumstances, has made a valuable contribution to the enormous progress shown in recent decades for children. Over the past 25 years, the number of children dying before the age of five has been reduced by more than half; millions of children have been lifted out of poverty; the rate of school-age children not enrolled in school has been reduced by over 40 per cent since 1990. Despite this impressive progress, millions of children still remain untouched, for reasons related to poverty, discrimination and humanitarian disasters. About 250 million children live in countries affected by conflict, and nearly 50 million have been forced to leave their homes. Faced with these challenges, the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti plays a strategic role in the coordination and development of the global UNICEF research agenda, both in developing and developed countries. The Innocenti Report Card series has become a reference point for assessing the conditions of child well-being in rich countries.  
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The Gates Annual Letter - 2017

Bill and Melinda Gates have written an annual letter for the past several years. The goal of these annual letters is to broaden awareness and interest in key global health and development programs. This year’s annual letter is addressed to Warren Buffet, who in 2006 donated the bulk of his fortune to the foundation to fight disease and reduce inequity. A few months ago, Warren asked Bill and Melinda to reflect on what impact his gift has had on the world. The letter is their answer to him, and it singles out UNICEF for special recognition.It’s a story about the stunning gains the poorest people in the world have made over the last 25 years. One of the most startling and inspiring numbers is the reduction in childhood deaths. The number of deaths per year has been cut in half since 1990. It can also be looked at from the standpoint of the 122 million lives that have been saved since 1990.There are numerous contributing factors to this progress including vaccines, modern contraceptives, neonatal care, women's self-help groups, and many others. The Gates Annual Letter 2017 send the important message that global efforts are closer than ever to tackling polio, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB. The central reaffirming message is that the death of a child in the developing world will one day be just as rare as the death of a child in the rich world.(14 February 2017)
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Global research partnership on child internet use expands

(14 February 2017) Important new findings from the Global Kids Online (GKO) research partnership for Bulgaria have recently been made public, while researchers in Chile have just finished nation-wide data collection and are preparing to launch their report in April. In parallel, two new GKO programmes have been initiated in Ghana and the Philippines, where the teams are currently preparing for nationally representative data collection utilizing the GKO research toolkit. Jasmina Byrne, child protection specialist at UNICEF Innocenti and one of the principal investigators on the project explained how evidence on child internet use could have positive policy implications. “Rigorous evidence on children’s internet use can help international and national policy makers develop balanced and informed policy choices that take account of both opportunities and risks. We are delighted to see more countries come on board with the research partnership.” The latest evidence produced by the GKO partnership is based on a national representative survey of 1,000 children in Bulgaria aged 9 to 17 years old and their parents. The findings reveal that children who are deeply exposed to internet use and have a high level of technical digital skill do not always use the full range of online opportunities, and they do not always respond proactively to upsetting online content. Children are accessing the internet on their own at ever younger ages, often unsupervised, raising important questions about the balance between online risks and opportunities and children’s online safety. Findings from Bulgaria show how the average age of first internet use has dropped to 8 years old over the past 6 years. More than 90 per cent use the internet daily and 80 per cent of these children spend at least one hour online per day.  “Today’s Bulgarian children are real digital natives. Most of them use internet and mobile communications almost all the time and often have digital skills superior to those of their parents,” said Georgi Apostolov, coordinator of the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre which carried out the survey. “This is probably the main reason why parents seems to have reduced the supervision and mediation compared to 6 years ago. However, children start using internet at an earlier age, so they need more mediation in order to develop the necessary social and media skills that will allow them to benefit from the opportunities the internet provides.” Bulgaria becomes the latest country to join the Global Kids Online research partnership, a project that aims to build a global network of researchers and experts in order to generate and sustain cross national evidence on the opportunities and risks of child internet use. Pilot studies utilising the toolkit among children aged 9 – 17 were originally conducted in  Argentina, the  Philippines,  Serbia and  South Africa (an overview of key findings from the pilot study can be read here.) Since then, the project has expanded to countries including Montenegro, Ghana and Chile. The GKO pilot study released in late 2016 also found that on average 8 in 10 children accessed the internet via smartphones. More internet access comes with higher exposure to online risk and the safety of children online depends on their digital skills. Better skills also allow children to take more advantage of the opportunities that the internet affords them. A majority of children also report learning new skills online. Around 70 per cent of Bulgarian children report that they learn new things from the Internet every week and almost all of them (96 per cent) agree that the internet offers a lot of useful things for children their age. Half of all children use the internet for schoolwork and 45 per cent to look for news online. Child searches for health information are rare, even among older teenagers. In fact, children in Bulgaria use the internet most often for leisure and entertainment activities, such as watching videos (89 per cent), listening to music (86 per cent), and visiting social networking sites (73 per cent). Playing games and posting pictures and comments are also popular. While children in Bulgaria use the internet to create content rather rarely, they seem competent internet users. Most know how to save a photo they found online (86 per cent), find it easy to choose terms for their online searches (78 per cent), or how to install an app (77 per cent) and check mobile app prices (67 per cent). They are also able to access their information from various devices they use (70 per cent) and know how to change the privacy settings of their online profiles (73 per cent). The increased use of the internet, however, has created more exposure to risk, especially for older children. Over the past year, 15 per cent of children in Bulgaria have experienced something online that bothered or upset them compared to 9 per cent in 2010. About one third of all survey participants have seen online pornographic content, which was upsetting for almost half of these children. A third of the children have encountered online hate speech or seen violent online materials, including images and videos of murders and executions, which was exceptionally or very upsetting for nearly half of the children. Most children talk to family and friends when they experience something negative online but nearly one in 5 children do not speak to anybody. Parents and carers are the main source of support (70 per cent of children turn to them), followed by friends (36 per cent) and siblings (12 per cent). Teachers or other professionals are very rarely sought for support in such cases (respectively 4 and 1 per cent respectively). In addition, a significant number of children (18 per cent) do not talk to anybody and this proportion has increased considerably since 2010 (4 per cent). For more information, visit  www.globalkidsonline.net. Join the conversation on social media at #GlobalKidsOnline. 
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