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A Common Sense Media study revealed that the average screen time for kids between eight and 12 years was five hours a day, and for teens it was well over seven hours in 2019. Unsurprisingly, according to this recent study, much younger kids got increasingly exposed to screens during the global lockdowns.

Concerned adults worry about children’s excessive screen time or that online risks outweigh the benefits. The temptation for these parents is therefore to focus more on restricting internet use than on enabling their children to participate online in a safe manner.

While the impact of screen time on children is still being debated, the UNICEF’s Growing up in a connected world report suggests that what children are doing online has more bearing on their wellbeing than how much time they spend online and that children who are more active online are also better at managing online risks.

So rather than hindering children’s internet use, adults should learn how to effectively facilitate the online experience. But faced with the complex and fast evolving technologies, many parents do not feel sufficiently confident to guide their often more tech-savvy children.

It is important to keep in mind that risk does not always lead to harm. Children exposed to online risks may not suffer harm if they have the knowledge and resilience to cope with the experience.

Online risks for children

The OECD Typology of Risks provides a practical examination of emerging risks that parents, educators, and children should be made aware of. Simplified, these are:

  • Content Risks: which include hateful, harmful, or illegal content as well as disinformation.
  • Conduct Risks: these refer to children’s own conduct which can make them vulnerable, i.e., in the case of sexting or cyberbullying.
  • Contact Risks: which include online predators, sex trafficking and cyber grooming, and have been identified as a growing concern across OECD countries.
  • Consumer Risks: such as inappropriate marketing messages as well as online fraud.
  • Privacy Risks: many children do not yet understand the privacy disclosures they encounter, nor the value of their personal information. Parents’ desires to overshare (“sharenting”) can also create privacy and security concerns.
  • Advanced Technologies Risks: the use of AI-based technologies, Internet of Things (IoT) and extended virtual reality (XR) pose further risks. The immersive virtual worlds within the Metaverse come with new and exacerbated threats, many of which are not well understood yet.

To investigate on how to keep children safe online, go to

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