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The thematic workshop, organised by UNICEF, brought together speakers from various organisations to share their perspectives on how research can contribute to global and national policies.
The Global Kids Online (GKO) project, led by UNICEF, the London School of Economics, and the EU Kids Online network, researches children’s use of the Internet, with the aim of informing policy-makers. The research will also facilitate the implementation of many of the SDGs that have a direct impact on children.
Given that children comprise one third of all internet users, Prof. Sonia Livingstone (London School of Economics) said that the researcher were developing a research toolkit consisting of a modular survey, qualitative research protocols, and methodological guidelines, and were developing a website for hosting the toolkit, national reports and the synthesis report.
Mr Alexandre Barbosa (Head, Regional Centre for Studies of the Development of the Information Society) explained that in Latin America, the Internet penetration rate was increasing, although digital literacy levels. Not enough was being done by policy-makers.
He also referred to the debate on intolerance, and the need to enhance ways to confront all manifestations of discrimination. Two national reports on children’s Internet use in Brazil were available: Risks and Safety on the Internet: Comparing Brazilian and European Children (2013) and Net Children Go Mobile (2014)
Chile and Argentina are also researching the trends on children’s use of the Internet. Argentina’s study, which included nearly 1,100 children aged 13-18, was presented to policy-makers and relevant stakeholders. Chile’s research is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
Ms Esperanza Magpantay (Senior Statistician, ITU) discussed the use of statistics and surveys to understand children use of the internet. ITU’s research was based on official statistics gathered from official entities, administrations, governments, and ministries.
Magpantay said that the researchers faced difficulties in collecting data from developing countries, as requests for information or data about Internet users is prohibited. However, a number of developing countries did respond with data.
Magpantay recommends that countries undertake research in their own countries. Data related to the number of children using the Internet was crucial, and formed the basis for research on children’s use of the Internet.
Joining the session remotely, Ms Nevine Tewfik (Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology) highlighted the difficulties which policy-makers face when it comes to research undertaken by NGOs, the private sector, and academia. The ecosystem in general - the political and social situation - obliges policy-makers to choose the right timing to publish the outcomes of research. These considerations are in addition to the need to develop new skills in order to implement the recommendations. She also mentioned the work of Egypt's National Committee for Child Online Safety, which has the responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in international report.
by Doaa Shendy