On Facebook you are giving yourself away completely

On Facebook you are giving yourself away completely

I didn’t come up with the title for this article. Nor is it quoted from some expert on social media. The statement was made by a 13-year-old Maltese boy who took part in a study by EU Kids Online and the London School of Economics and Political Science, involving 9-16 year olds in nine European countries, including Malta. The results of the study “The meaning of online problematic situations for children”, which have just been published, sheds important light on how children perceive potential risks and negative experiences on internet and how they react to them. The study concludes that “Overall, the most common online problematic situation includes the sending of content that is violent, vulgar, or sexual. Other problematic situations include perpetrating, experiencing, and/or witnessing hateful, vulgar, or nasty messages. Although less covered in the risk literature, some involve being killed, cursed, excluded, and/or verbally assaulted in online games. Lastly, some include meeting online peers offline, sending “friend” requests or communicating with strangers not their own age.” Maltese children are aware of internet addiction but have no qualms in accessing illegal content and downloading illegal games, software, videos and music as they don’t see any harm in it. The role of the mass media in reporting stories about dangers and the consequences of negative experiences online is revealed quite clearly as children tend to get influenced by the media’s sensationalism in cases such as ‘stranger danger’ which they are less likely to experience. Prevention seems to be favoured more than support-seeking by the interviewed children, and girls are more likely to seek social support than boys. The study makes...