The internet is often celebrated for its ability to aid children’s development. But it is simultaneously criticized for reducing children’s quality of life and exposing them to unknown and unprecedented
dangers. There is considerable debate about when or how children’s rights – including the rights to expression, to privacy, to information, to play and to protection from harm, as set out in the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – may be realized or infringed in the digital age. With more children around the world going online every day, it is more important than ever to clarify how
the internet can advance children’s opportunities in life while safeguarding them from harm or abuse. This requires evidence, from children themselves, that represents the diversity of children’s experiences at the national and global levels. By talking to children, we are better able to understand not only the barriers they face in accessing the internet, but also the opportunities they enjoy and the skills and competences they acquire by engaging in these activities. This allows us to enquire about children’s exposure to online risks and possible harms, and about the role of their parents as mediators and sources of support. In bringing children’s own voices and experiences to the centre of policy development, legislative reform and programme and service delivery, we hope the decisions made in these spheres will serve children’s best interests.
The internet is becoming a natural part of children’s lives across the globe, but we still lack quality and nationally representative data on how children use the internet and with what consequences. This report underscores that it is possible to collect quality data if the right strategies and investments are in place. Over the past 4 years, the Global Kids Online network has worked with UNICEF and partners around the world to improve the global evidence base on the risks and opportunities for children on the internet. This report provides a summary of the evidence generated from Global Kids Online national surveys in 11 countries. Importantly, most of the evidence comes from children themselves, because it is only by talking to children that we can understand how the internet affects them. By bringing children’s own voices and experiences to the centre of policy development, legislative reform, advocacy, and programme and service delivery, we hope the decisions made in these spheres will serve children’s best interests.
There is broad agreement that internet access is important for children and provides them with many opportunities. Yet crucial questions remain about what we hope children will do online and if the opportunities provided are translating into clear benefits. What do children actually need to be able to benefit from the opportunities that the internet brings? Is there a gap between expectations and reality? The answers to these questions matter to: Governments striving to provide connectivity for families in homes, schools and communities; parents and educators who must overcome problems of cost, risk, or lack of skill, so that children may benefit from online opportunities; child rights advocates and practitioners who call for resources to empower and protect children online; and children themselves, many of whom want to take advantage of online opportunities for personal benefit.
Parenting interventions can dramatically reduce violence against children and improve a child’s future. Yet in the past, research has mainly focused on young children in high-income countries, and most of the research has only used quantitative methodology. By contrast, this qualitative study focuses on teenagers and their caregivers who attended a parenting programme in South Africa, contributing to a small but growing body of research on parent support programmes for teenagers in low and middle-income countries. The research examines the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme, which was developed and tested between 2012 and 2016 in South Africa. The main qualitative study was carried out in the last year (2015–2016) and is the focus of this paper. It complements a cluster randomized controlled trial. This qualitative study captures the experiences of teenagers and parents who attended the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in 2015. Importantly, the study gives an insight into how the caregivers and teenagers changed as a result of participating in the study. Findings show that both caregivers and teenagers valued the programme and their participation fostered better family relations and reduced violence at home. Their views are important for practitioners, programme implementers and researchers working in violence prevention and child and family welfare. More research is needed, however, to show whether these changes can be sustained.
This paper examines a four-year evidence-based study on an adolescent parenting support pilot programme known as Sinovuyo1 Teen. The parenting support programme aims to reduce violence inside and outside the home in a poor rural community in Eastern Cape, South Africa. This is one of the four working papers looking at data from a qualitative study that complemented a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT). Both the study and the trial were conducted during the last year of the parenting support programme. The research question was: What are the policy and service delivery requirements and implications for scaling up the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in South Africa and beyond? The primary data for this paper were collected through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with key stakeholders, including programme implementers. Thematic analysis identified four themes, three of which are presented in this paper: programme model; programme fit in a service delivery system; and programme in local cultural and policy context. Although the findings show the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme was positively viewed, if it were to be scaled up and sustainable, the intervention would need to be grounded in established policies and systems.
Iraq’s public distribution system (PDS) is the only universal non-contributory social transfer system in the world. Through three decades of conflict and fragility, food rations delivered through the PDS have remained the single largest safety net among Iraq’s population. Reforming the PDS continues to be politically challenging, notwithstanding its heavy dependence on imports and associated economic distortions as well as an unsustainable fiscal burden. The fiscal crisis since mid-2014 has, however, put PDS reform back on the agenda. In this context, this paper employs a mixed demand approach to analyse consumption patterns in Iraqi households and quantify the welfare impact of a potential reform of the PDS in urban areas. The results of the ex ante simulations show that household consumption of PDS items is relatively inelastic to changes in price, particularly among the poorest quintiles, and that these goods are normal goods. Cross-sectional comparisons suggest that, with improvements in welfare, and with well-functioning markets, some segments of the population are substituting away from the PDS and increasing their consumption of market substitutes. Overall, the results suggest that any one-shot reform will have adverse and sizeable welfare impacts. The removal of all subsidies in urban areas will require compensating poor households by 74 per cent of their expenditures and the richest households by nearly 40 per cent to keep welfare constant. However, a targeted removal of the top 4 deciles from PDS eligibility in urban areas will leave poverty rates unaffected and generate cost savings, but will need to be carefully communicated and managed to counter public discontent.
Based on an evidence-focused literature review, the first part of this paper examines existing knowledge on how the time children spend using digital technology impacts their well-being across three dimensions; mental/psychological, social and physical. The evidence reviewed here is largely inconclusive with respect to impact on children’s physical activity, but indicates that digital technology seems to be beneficial for children’s social relationships. In terms of impact on children’s mental well-being, the most robust studies suggest that the relationship is U-shaped, where no use and excessive use can have a small negative impact on mental well-being, while moderate use can have a small positive impact. In the second part of the paper, the hypothetical idea of addiction to technology is introduced and scrutinized. This is followed by an overview of the hypothetical idea that digital technology might re-wire or hijack children’s brains; an assumption that is challenged by recent neuroscience evidence. In conclusion, considerable methodological limitations exist across the spectrum of research on the impact of digital technology on child well-being, including the majority of the studies on time use reviewed here, and those studies concerned with clinical or brain impacts. This prompts reconsideration of how research in this area is conducted. Finally, recommendations for strengthening research practices are offered.
This brief focuses on quantitative data and indicators to measure adolescent health, social development and well-being. It covers: the principles of good indicator definition; common use of indicators; examples of indicators for adolescent health and social development; existing global data to describe - and populate indicators of - adolescent health and social development; and how to improve data collection efforts.
The international community has recognized the importance of internet access for development, economic growth and the realization of civil rights and is actively seeking ways to ensure universal internet access to all segments of society. Children should be an important part of this process, not only because they represent a substantial percentage of internet users but also because they play an important part in shaping the internet.