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The first national comparative research on children's online safety launched

• EU Kids Online project partners launched a unique research which will encompass 1,000 children from ages 9 to 17 as well as their parents/guardians • Relevant and comparable data on children's online habits and safety for the first time available in Croatia • Project partners declare November the 'Month of Children's Online Safety'. A number of activities which aim at raising the awareness of the issue and making an impact on the creation of a new education policy will be conducted

EU Kids Online project partners, led by the Association for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK), the Agency for Electronic Media and Hrvatski Telekom, launched today the first national comparative research on children's and their parents' media habits and on the children's online safety. This is a unique corporate social responsibility partnership on the international EU Kids Online project in the field of children's media habits research, by which Croatia joins the world standard of monitoring children's online safety.

The research will be carried out until end October, encompassing 1,000 children from ages 9 to 17 as well as their parents/guardians. The research will focus on Internet benefits and risks, it will define the online use intensity depending on age and socio-economic characteristics of children, and provide a better insight into a role of a parent, a teacher and the surrounding in the protection and education of children online. 

'We at Hrvatski Telekom, as digitalization leaders in economy as well as the entire society, believe that we all together must make a significant step forward in increasing the safety of children especially in a digital society. With this in mind, we have launched a socially responsible initiative called 'Share the Positive, Block the Negative', which has united the academic community, non-governmental sector and government institutions, and which has included said research as its integral part. We will continue to invest in the education of our employees as well as continuously launch new products and services which aim at increasing the online safety', it was pointed out by Nina Išek Međugorac, Director of Corporate Communications of Hrvatski Telekom. 

The Agency for Electronic Media has been continuously involved in the promotion of media literacy. It has,among others, launched the online portal medijskapismenost.hr in cooperation with its partners. The cooperation on the EU Kids Online project represents a continuation of the media literacy related activities.

 'Children, especially children older than 12, use autonomously and very often without any supervision, diverse media platforms under mild or non-existent regulation. This is why the research, in particular the comprehensive one such as the EU Kids Online, is important for understanding media habits of new generations as well as for defining potential threats to which the children in a digital media world are exposed. The efficient protection from such potentially damaging media content is media literacy, especially a development of critical thinking as its important element, one of key skills required for living in a modern, media mediated society', said Robert Tomljenović, vice-president of the Electronic Media Council. 

The conduct of this research is critical for the adoption of national online safety guidelines, development of education materials for children and parents, as well as for the development of national and local education policies. The research will have a significant impact on the activities of numerous stakeholders engaged in the protection of children online by encouraging critical thinking i.e. raising the awareness of threats and the opportunities of online exposure of children and the young. 

'During the last few years, various stakeholders in Croatia have spoken of the intensity of children's and young people's exposure to media emphasizing the opportunities and the threats they meet in the online world. This will, for the first time, give us an in-depth insight into media habits of our children and the young as well as show the immensity of parents' responsibility providing us the opportunity to compare data with other EU member countries. This is what makes this research unique having a large influence on our education policies', said Igor Kanižaj, the EU Kids Online research national coordinator, vice-president of the Association for Communication and Media Culture, and assistant professor at the Faculty of Political Science.

Key research findings will be presented in November. They will then be submitted to the Ministry of Science and Education as well as to heads of the curricular reform to facilitate in the creation of a new education policy.

The research partners include the Association for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK),  the Agency for Electronic Media, Hrvatski Telekom, City of Zagreb (Većeslava Holjevca Primary School), Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM), Center for Missing and Exploited Children/Safer Internet Centre (CSI). The project is supported by the Ministry of Science and Education as well as by the Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy.

Project partners declare November the 'Month of Children's Online Safety'. A number of activities which aim at the promotion of research findings will be conducted and expert recommendations for increasing children's online safety as well as for the creation of a new education policy provided which will raise the level of children's safety and of media literacy in a digital world in an adequate manner. Final research findings will be publicly presented and analysed at the round table on the occasion of the International Children's Rights Day.

About project partners: 

Association for Communication and Media Culture

The Association for Communication and Media Culture was founded for the purpose of improving the media and communication culture by implementing systematic media related education. Within the Media Children project, 600 media literacy workshops for 12,000 attendees were held. The Media Children project, which gathers more than 100 members and volunteers,  won the prestigious European prize awarded by the Events Foundation, the leading EU promoter of media education.

Agency for Electronic Media

As a regulator of electronic media in the Republic of Croatia, the Agency for Electronic Media has been continuously implementing the activities which aim is to raise the public awareness of the significance of media literacy as well as the projects which focus on the provision of media literacy aid, advice and tools, primarily of children and parents. In 2016, the Agency for Electronic Media launched the www.medijskapismenost.hr  website, adopted 'Recommendations for the Protections of Minors and Safe Use of Electronic Media', continued the 'Let's choose what we watch' media campaign, and organized media literacy workshops.

 

Većeslava Holjevca Primary School (City of Zagreb)

Media literacy has become an active part of the curriculum and a number of courses taught at Većeslava Holjevca Primary School. Media culture and the issue of online safety is a part of various curricular and extracurricular project activities. By carrying out diverse projects, pupils learn about online safety, and by establishing active media culture related cooperation with the parents, both pupils and their parents get educated. 

Center for Missing and Exploited Children/Safer Internet Centre (CSI)

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been actively involved in educating children on online safety since 2007, when the first educational brochure was published and numerous primary school lectures held. The Safer Internet Centre is a project coordinated by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and supported by the European Commission.The Safer Internet Centre conducts numerous educations and operates the Helpline for reporting and providing help in relation to grooming, cyberbullying and the online content to which the young people are exposed.

Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM)

HAKOM is a national regulator for electronic communications, postal and railway services which main tasks include the provision of information and the protection of service users. Children of today are autonomous users of electronic communications to which HAKOM pays special attention as well as to the promotion of children's online safety. It has partnered with others in marking the Safer Internet Day for years as well as in promoting children's online safety. In cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Education, it launched the programme of creating and sending the brochure about a safer and more responsible online behaviour in 2016 to one generation of pupils every year.

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