Challenges and Risks of Internet Use by Children. How to Empower Minors?

The aim of this paper is to reflect critically, using the latest data taken from reports, research, publications and other sources, on how to empower children in their daily Internet browsing given current online risks. These risks faced by children are a real concern for teachers, families and researchers and this article will focus on analyzing those online risks which produce the most emotional distress for children, namely grooming and cyberbullying. The use of the Internet, and the ease with which information or situations can be seen on it, has broken the social taboos associated with the risks that children are exposed to. Data such as 44% of children in Spain having felt sexually harassed on the Internet at any time in 2002, or 20% of U.S. children suffering cyberbullying according to a survey of 4,400 students in 2010, indicates the severity of the problem. Therefore, as stated in UNESCO’s MIL Curriculum for Teachers (Media and Information Literacy), it is necessary to work on the responsible use of the Internet by children and to empower them to reduce the possibility of them becoming future victims or bullies. At the end of the article we will develop a list of recommendations to be considered in the design of educational activities focused on the critical training of the minor’s use of the Internet.

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