Study shows Maltese minors as intense ICT users
A study carried out by the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) confirms that Maltese minors are generally technologically savvy and intense users of ICT applicatioins.
The MCA has published the results of a survey on the use of ICT by minors that was carried out earlier this year amongst students attending primary school years 4 to 6 and secondary schools forms 1 to 4 and their parent to gauge ICT access, use, and usage intensity.
The study shows that almost all respondents (98%) have a computer connected to the Internet at home. Whilst playing games over the Internet remains popular amongst the primary students, older secondary students appear to prefer applications that facilitate social interaction such as networking sites, chatting, messaging and video calling.
Facebook is the most popular social networking site amongst students with 90% of secondary form 3 and 4 students (13 to 15 years) claiming to have an account. What is of concern however is that 41% of primary years 4, 5 and 6 (8 to 11 years) claimed to have a Facebook account, thus disregarding the age restriction (13 years) to join the network.
Generally, parents and their children demonstrate an awareness of the potential risks that the Internet may present and have shown a level of discretion with regard to whom they engage with and what messages they post online. Nevertheless, a considerable number of students and parents appeared overconfident and perhaps too trusting in the virtual world.
Ing. Philip Micallef, Executive Chairman of the MCA stated that “the results obtained through surveys such as these serve to give us a better understanding and help us appreciate how the digital natives are using technology and its various applications and how these are impacting their lives. This is particularly important in view of our aspirations to build a society and an economy that is based on the opportunities brought about by ICTs.”
“Furthermore, we need to secure an environment that is conducive to our children’s development and wellbeing in this exciting digital age,” he continued.
Funded by the European Union’s Safer Internet Programme, the survey forms part of the BeSmartOnline Project, a national initiative that aims at promoting smarter use of ICTs and online applications amongst minors.
The study has been made possible through the support of the Education Directorates, the Secretariat for Catholic Education (Church Schools), the Independent Schools Association, the BeSmartOnline Consortium partners and the 36 schools that participated in the study.
To coincide with the conclusion of the BeSmartOnline! project, during May 2012, the Safer Internet Centre Malta conducted a study on the use of ICT by Maltese minors. The study shows that Internet access, and its use in Maltese households by minors, with 57% of minors claiming to have access to the Internet from their bedroom whilst 33% claim to access the Internet via their mobile phone.
Usage intensity has increased particularly amongst the older cohorts with 99% of parents with children in Forms 3 and 4 (13 to 15 years) claiming that their children access the Internet (not including school) twice a week or more. Results also show the proliferation of other internet-enabled devices such as gaming consoles, tablets and mobile phones which are becoming more common and widely used for internet-based applications.
Despite this, 5% of parents still claim that they cannot afford the connection whilst another 17% express having difficulty paying for the connection.
A total of 27% of parents believe that their children spend too much time on the Internet whilst 48% believe that their child is more conversant than they are at using the Internet.