New report by Telia Company and World Childhood Foundation finds that 9 in 10 children have faced misinformation online
- 2021-12-07 06:30 UTC
- 5,000 children aged between 11 and 17 in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden participated in the report Children’s Experiences with Misinformation Online
- 9 in 10 children state that they have faced misinformation online
- Only one third of the children sharing information online regularly check the veracity of that content
- 1 in 4 children have seen untrue information or lies about them shared on social media that made them feel uncomfortable.
- The report demonstrates the urgency of initiatives to equip children with the right digital skills
The report Children’s Experiences with Misinformation Online by Telia Company and World Childhood Foundation finds that 9 in 10 children have faced misinformation online that they believe or know to be false or untrue. Only a third of the children who have shared information online do something to check the veracity of that content on a regular basis before sharing it.
In social media, 6 out of 10 children have experienced content that has been manipulated to look real. Fact-checking can be difficult. While almost half of the children surveyed feel that they know how to recognize false information online most of the time, many feel uncertain about their capacity in this regard. It is cause for concern that half of the children aged 11-17 claim that they have not learned in school about how to verify information online. This is one of the areas where the report finds the biggest differences between the countries being part of the survey: 3 out of 10 children in Sweden stated that they have not learned the necessary skills in school, and as many as 6 out of 10 children in Lithuania. Of the children learning about fact-checking in school, only 3 out of 5 believe they learned it sufficiently.
As part of Telia’s business strategy, one of the company’s sustainability key impact areas is Digital Inclusion where Telia is committed to provide access to reliable connectivity and increase its users’ digital skills in order to achieve digital equality and inclusion.
Sara Nordbrand, Head of Group Sustainability at Telia Company, says: “The report shows how vital it is to equip children with necessary digital skills to evaluate content online and find trustworthy sources. Schools can play a greater role in this work and parents need to be engaged in their children’s digital lives and encourage them to share their experiences. Misinformation has always existed but is in today’s digital landscape spreading at an unprecedented scale and pace. We hope this report will spur discussions at home and in schools to further empower and educate children in what skills they need in the online world.”
Susanne Drakborg, Program manager Child Safety Online at World Childhood Foundation, says: “Children’s own stories show the emotional consequences of misinformation. Exaggerations or fabrications can cause fear, worry and confusion. And when children realize that they themselves have helped spread something which is not true, they report feeling embarrassed and ashamed. The magnitude and speed of information sharing can be overwhelming and knowing what and when and how to fact-check is a true challenge. There are no simple answers other than that we as adults have to help children figure this out. We have to initiate conversations, ask questions and together with our children come up with answers. It is our responsibility as adults.”
About the report
Children’s Experiences with Misinformation Online is a report by the Children’s Advisory Panel, an initiative by Telia in collaboration with the World Childhood Foundation, the research agency Ipsos and local children’s rights organizations. The report is based on 5,027 survey responses in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with children aged between 11 and 17. The surveys were conducted through online panels in 6 languages including Russian in the Baltic countries. In addition, 502 children between 12-15 participated in co-creative workshops in school classes sharing their experience with misinformation online.
- 9 in 10 children participating in the study state that they have come across misinformation online.
- The most common way to check if information is true or not is asking a parent or family member.
- 2 out of 3 children share information they find online with others.
- Only a third of the children who have shared information online do something to check the truth of that content on a regular basis before sharing it.
- A quarter of the children had seen something false about them shared in social media that made them feel uncomfortable.
- 6 out of 10 have experienced a photo or video being edited to make it look real.
- 7 out of 10 have experienced clickbait in some form.
- Only 2 in 5 children do something regularly to fact-check what influencers post in social media.
- Only half of the children said they have learned in school how to verify information online. Of these, only 3 out of 5 believe they learned it sufficiently.
To protect and empower children with the necessary digital skills to combat misinformation online, Telia has launched several initiatives such as:
- Mobile Driving License: In 2021 Telia Sweden launched a mobile driving license for children together with the child rights organization Friends. The aim of the mobile driving license is to facilitate conversations about mobile phone use and online life, and to provide a safe and secure start for youngsters wanting to explore the digital life.
- Digital Parenting Package: In 2021 Telia Finland, in collaboration with the organization Save the Children, launched a digital parenting package, used by more than 10,000 customers, to inspire parents to support their children in their online lives.
- Online privacy training for young people: In 2021, Telia Finland teamed up with the Finnish Youtuber Tuure Boelius and the organization Save the Children to create a series of child-friendly educational videos about online privacy and data protection. The videos reached more than 50,000 viewers.
- Greatest Courage: In Estonia, Telia keeps developing its “Greatest Courage” initiative to educate and create awareness for children, families and teachers about cyberbullying. The initiative is run in collaboration with the Estonian Union of Child Welfare.
- Growing up on the internet: In Lithuania, Telia’s initiative “Augu Internete” (Growing up on the internet) has been running for six years, educating kids and parents about online safety. To this date, workshops on internet safety have been attended by 90,000 school children.
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