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Global Kids Online

Global Kids Online

The Global Kids Online project and network was established in 2015 to support evidence generation on children’s online experiences at the national level. Recognizing the lack of high-quality evidence in this field, particularly in the Global South, the Global Kids Online project provides a toolkit of standardized methodologies that enable researchers to gather robust data on children’s digital experiences. The project is conducted in partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science and the EU Kids Online network, as well as many researchers and experts from different parts of the world.

The data gathered by the Global Kids Online network allows us to compare our findings cross-nationally and  understand the differences and similarities in children’s internet use across a range of country and regional contexts. As of 2019, UNICEF country offices and academic partners have collected data from nearly 25,000 children and 12,000 parents in 18 countries across four continents, using the Global Kids Online methodology. The network continues to grow each year and additional national projects are ongoing in 2020.

The Global Kids Online research toolkit is freely available on the Global Kids Online website.

Publications

CHILDREN’S EXPERIENCES ONLINE: Building global understanding and action
Publication Publication

CHILDREN’S EXPERIENCES ONLINE: Building global understanding and action

Global Kids Online is a research network initiative led by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti (UNICEF – Innocenti). It was launched in 2016 with the purpose of building on the experience of the highly successful EU Kids Online programme and further promoting research on children’s online rights on a global scale, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. In order to understand ways in which the research has been taken up and used in partner countries and internationally, this study was commissioned in 2019 by UNICEF – Innocenti and The London School of Economics, and undertaken by an independent team at Matter of Focus. It uses an approach that allows for the broad capture of impacts internationally as well as the specific impacts in partner countries, with more detailed focus on three case study countries (Uruguay, Bulgaria and Ghana), selected by the Global Kids Online management team.
Global Kids Online Comparative Report
Publication Publication

Global Kids Online Comparative Report

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.
Growing up in a connected world
Publication Publication

Growing up in a connected world

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.

Journal Articles

Contextualising the link between adolescents’ use of digital technology and their mental health: a multi‐country study of time spent online and life satisfaction
Journal Article Journal Article

Contextualising the link between adolescents’ use of digital technology and their mental health: a multi‐country study of time spent online and life satisfaction

Evidence on whether the amount of time children spend online affects their mental health is mixed. There may be both benefits and risks. Yet, almost all published research on this topic is from high‐income countries. This paper presents new findings across four countries of varying wealth.We analyse data gathered through the Global Kids Online project from nationally representative samples of Internet‐using children aged 9 to 17 years in Bulgaria (n  = 1,000), Chile (n  = 1,000), Ghana (n  = 2,060) and the Philippines (n  = 1,873). Data was gathered on Internet usage on week and weekend days. Measures of absolute (comparable across countries) and relative (compared to other children within countries) time use were constructed. Mental health was measured by Cantril’s ladder (life satisfaction). The analysis also considers the relative explanatory power on variations in mental health of children’s relationships with family and friends. Analysis controlled for age, gender and family socioeconomic status.In Bulgaria and Chile, higher‐frequency Internet use is weakly associated with lower life satisfaction. In Ghana and the Philippines, no such pattern was observed. There was no evidence that the relationship between frequency of Internet use and life satisfaction differed by gender. In all four countries, the quality of children’s close relationships showed a much stronger relationship with their life satisfaction than did time spent on the Internet.Time spent on the Internet does not appear to be strongly linked to children’s life satisfaction, and results from one country should not be assumed to transfer to another. Improving the quality of children’s close relationships offers a more fruitful area for intervention than restricting their time online. Future research could consider a wider range of countries and links between the nature, rather than quantity, of Internet usage and mental health.

News & Commentary

Preventing the sale and exploitation of children in a rapidly changing world
Article Article

Preventing the sale and exploitation of children in a rapidly changing world

Umu Koroma (13), a former sex worker in Small Sefadu, Sierra Leone. (2 April 2020) States must step up their efforts to eradicate the sale and sexual exploitation of children to keep up with evolving risks. The UN Special Rapporteur stressed this message at the Human Rights Council earlier this month, where she released the final report of her six-year tenure. In the report, Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, provides an analysis of key challenges, trends, and recommendations for the way forward.“Child dignity cannot be an afterthought” - Maud de Boer-BuquicchioThe report was informed, amongst others, by an expert consultation held at UNICEF Office of Research—Innocenti in September 2019. To accompany the Special Rapporteur’s report, UNICEF Innocenti has prepared three reports summarising key discussion points around three important and growing contexts related to the sale and sexual exploitation of children: technology, sport, and migration.Technology a new enabler of child exploitationDownload the brief on the sale and sexual exploitation of children in the context of digital technologyAs access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) increases, so too do the risks posed to children. Popular ICTs, like mobile phones and the internet, can enable and facilitate sexual crimes against children, including the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and the facilitation of child prostitution.The scale of the problem is difficult to ascertain with precision. However, in 2018 alone, 18.4 million referrals of child sexual abuse material were made by US technology companies to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. When addressing the issue, children’s own experiences and perspectives need to be considered. For the most part, the use of ICTs can generate positive benefits for children. Addressing the root causes of children’s vulnerability therefore requires a rights-based and holistic approach. Priorities include more and better evidence on the role of ICTs in facilitating or enabling the sale and sexual exploitation of children; clear terminology; new and improved legislation to help end the sale and sexual exploitation of children; and a multi-sectoral collaborative response.The dark side of sport – how children are exposed to violence and abuseDownload the brief on the sale and sexual exploitation of children in the context of sportSport has a powerful effect on children’s well-being and can promote greater physical health, emotional and mental balance, and help children develop important skills. But sport can also expose children to grievous harm and violence. At the extreme end is the sale of athletes, especially in major sports like football. Child athletes can easily fall victim to human trafficking, sometimes for the purposes of economic or sexual exploitation.Everyday participation in sport can also expose children to violence and harm. Instructors and coaches typically enjoy substantial impunity due to their authoritative role and the great pressure exerted on children to perform, often with the support of parents who are unaware of the exposure to harm.The interconnectedness of sport and the sale and sexual exploitation of children is a relatively unexplored issue that deeply affects their life experiences. While Conventions and Optional Protocols provide guidance, not enough research is available to inform actions, and laws are not fully equipped to regulate what is often a lucrative business. The vulnerability of children on the moveDownload the brief on the sale and sexual exploitation of children in the context of migration36.1 million children were international migrants in 2018 alone, often forced to move for a range of reasons, with or without families. Children who are migrating, especially if unaccompanied, face increased risk of being subjected to violence, including sexual violence, exploitation, and human trafficking. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by limited access to safe migration pathways, services, and justice. When they reach a destination country, they may encounter other difficulties, such as discrimination and limited access to basic services, making them extremely vulnerable to sale and sexual exploitation.Migrant children face harsh realities that are characterized by multiple intersecting and overlapping issues. Even though they may show resilience and agency in dealing with difficult circumstances, the emotional, mental, and physical toll of uncertain and often arduous journeys may undermine their ability to protect themselves, making them even more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and exploitation.Children left behind when families, especially one or both parents, migrate also face additional (and often hidden) vulnerabilities, and need to be included in research, policies and actions. While various Conventions, Protocols, and Compacts offer some protection to migrant children, more needs to be done, including: an integrated approach to complex vulnerabilities; improved access to information and education for children; risk mitigation through awareness campaigns and prevention mechanisms; adequate access to resources; and expanding national child protection measures to include children on the move and those left behind in the context of migration and displacement.READ the final Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children“We have come a long way to raise a better awareness of this phenomena, thanks to courageous children who, against all odds, stand up to speak and break the culture of silence nurtured by social tolerance, shame and stigma. Significant gains have also been achieved thanks to the dedication of first-line child protection officers, service providers, border police and law enforcement,” de Boer-Buquicchio said in a press statement following the release of her report.

Events

COVID-19, the Infodemic, & Fake News
Event Event

COVID-19, the Infodemic, & Fake News

 This golden age of innovation, with a flourishing of new technologies and online platforms, has created extraordinary opportunities for children and young people to enrich their knowledge and information, their social networks, and their solidarity and civic activism like never before. But those same technologies are used, abused and misused to promote fake messages and harm - leading to hate speech, racism, and hostility with often dangerous consequences to democracies, mental health and children and young people.The infodemic that has spread at the same rate as the COVID pandemic has brought this into sharp relief. Why now, why has this exploded in 2020 with data being exploited at an unprecedented level?How can children and young people develop the ability to decipher disinformation and misinformation? 
Assessing emerging impacts of the Global Kids Online research programme
Event Event

Assessing emerging impacts of the Global Kids Online research programme

23 July 2019 - Sarah Morton, director of Matter of Focus and lead on the impact study, presented emerging findings that will shortly be consolidated in a forthcoming report ‘Children’s experiences online: building global understanding and action. A study of the impacts of the Global Kids Online initiative’.  
Global Kids Online Network Meeting
Event Event

Global Kids Online Network Meeting

28 May 2019 - In high- and middle-income countries, and increasingly also in low-income countries, many children’s activities are underpinned by internet and mobile phone access in one way or another. Across truly diverse domestic, cultural and geographic contexts, many children now use digital and online technologies as part of their everyday lives.