Children’s rapid adoption of the internet and other online technologies, together with the constantly changing media landscape (e.g. more apps and tailored sites, more individualized media use, more mobile internet), pose challenges to researchers concerning the difficult task of adapting and renewing their inventory of research tools in order to identify the risks and opportunities presented by the internet and new media use. EU Kids Online II (2009-11) has offered a unique picture of a wide range of activities undertaken by European children online and the risks and benefits that accompany these activities. The pan-European survey offers valuable information on where, how and what children access online, what risks they encounter, what risks actually bother them, how they cope with problematic content or conduct and how effective parental strategies are in reducing such risks. It also demonstrates that “online opportunities and risks go hand in hand” (Livingstone et al., 2011: 142).
Children’s freely given, detailed accounts of how they understand online risks, and what they perceive as problematic or bothersome, are needed alongside quantitative data that mostly reflect adult perspectives on problematic online content and activities. The recent report, In their own words: What bothers children online? (Livingstone et al., 2013), analysed answers to an open survey question concerning what bothers children online. This arose out of data gathered for the EU Kids Online II study (2009-11). The current phase, EU Kids Online III (2011-14), promises a more thorough qualitative investigation into children’s understanding of online risks and opportunities.