London School of Economics and Political Science,UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti
The many stakeholders responsible for children’s safe and positive use of the internet (governments, civil society and the private sector alike) have an important task to formulate policies that are inclusive, balanced and based on solid evidence. But at present, the evidence on which such policies can rely is very scarce, especially in the global South. Through evidence-generation and research, one can identify both the commonalities and specificities of children’s online access and opportunities, skills and practices, risks and safety. Research is also invaluable for contextualising online experiences in relation to children’s and families’ lives and the wider cultural or national circumstances. Prevailing social norms and value systems, prevalence of violence offline, places and access to use of the internet, children’s support networks, can all contribute to the benefits or harm associated with internet use. At the global level, evidence is needed to help build a consensus among international actors on international standards, agreements, protocols and investments in order to make the internet a safer and better place for children.
Responding to evidence gaps, the Global Kids Online research project (www.globalkidsonline.net) was developed as a collaborative initiative between the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the EU Kids Online network. Supported by the WeProtect Global Alliance, the project developed a global research toolkit that would enable academics, governments, civil society and other actors to carry out reliable and standardized national research with children and their parents on the opportunities, risks and protective factors of children’s internet use. The research toolkit and other resources available to the public include:
Global Kids Online (GKO) follows a child rights framework, as this offers a unifying approach to children’s everyday experiences online, as well as offline, while also recognising the diverse contexts in which children live. The project aims to connect evidence with the ongoing international dialogue regarding policy and practical solutions for children’s well-being and rights in the digital age, especially in countries where the internet is only recently reaching the mass market.