The most effective Internet motivators? Children!
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009, was the sixth Safer Internet Day: an opportunity to think about the potential dangers that children and youngsters are exposed to, when they go alone
out of the house on-line. And to discuss what can be done to help them behave more responsibly and be better informed about the risks and traps.
But among all those cries of “how children fall victims of the Internet”, did anybody think about how much do we owe our children, when it comes to Internet take-up? How much do they increase the penetration of Internet in households?
Available statistics are clear on this subject: households with children have a much greater Internet penetration than households without children. And the reasoning behind this fact is also obvious: children need Internet because of their schools. Not only to be in touch with classmates, but also to prepare their homework and engage in other school-related activities. And the higher the school is, the more the student is dependent on the Internet. At universities, students cannot enroll for classes or register for examinations without going online.
The following graphs shows us what the situation looked like in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the EU27 as a whole in 2007: first with a computer available at home, and then with Internet connectivity in the households.
The graphs speak for themselves, so only one small comment: it seems that the “influence of children” (should we call it “gap”?) is somewhat higher in the Visegrad countries then in the EU27 as a whole. In fact, looking at the numbers of all EU countries, it seems that the more developed have a smaller difference. Probably due to the fact that the price of the computers or connectivity is relatively not so high for their citizens, and therefore they do not need such strong motivators as the needs of their children.
And yet another interesting aspect: the following two graphs show computer and Internet penetrations in households, based upon the structure of the family – albeit only for the Czech Republic. Clearly, a family without children but with three or more adults – probably students, counted already as adults – exhibit a much higher penetration then a family with only two adults.
On the other hand, in households with children, the penetration is significantly lower with only one adult (parent) in the household. This is probably an economic factor: a single parent has less financial means to provide for all the needs of his or her children.
And perhaps a final technical comment: comparisons between countries might be slightly distorted because of differences in the definition of Internet connectivity in the household: in some countries, like the Czech Republic, an Internet-connected mobile phone (with browsing only from the mobile phone etc.), not acting as a modem for a notebook, is not sufficient - while in other countries it might be.