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Interact J Med Res. 2017 Aug 29;6(2):e9. doi: 10.2196/ijmr.6231.

Internet Use and Access, Behavior, Cyberbullying, and Grooming: Results of an Investigative Whole City Survey of Adolescents.

Author information

1
Graduate School of Medical Genetics XXVI Cycle, Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale della Facoltà di Medicina e Odontoiatria, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.
2
Communication Science and Media Consulting, Versailles, France.
3
Dipartimento di Scienze Cognitive, Psicologiche, Pedagogiche e degli Studi Culturali, University of Messina, Messina, Italy.
4
Settanni Consulting Group, Rome, Italy.
5
Medical Genetics Unit, Mater Domini University Hospital, Catanzaro, Italy.
6
Dipartimento di Scienze della Salute, Life Science and Technology Graduate School, Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro, Italy.
7
Lega Italiana Diritti dell'Uomo, Rome, Italy.
8
Telecom Italia Group, Rome, Italy.
9
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Federico II University, Naples, Italy.
10
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Magna Graecia University of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy.
11
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
12
IMAGO Psychotherapy Clinic, Rome, Italy.
13
HKAO Consulting, Rome, Italy.
14
Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Chirurgiche, Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro, Italy.
15
Unità Operativa Complessa di Pediatria Universitaria, Azienda Ospedaliera "Pugliese-Ciaccio", Catanzaro, Italy.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

According to the Digital Agenda for Europe, the way children use the Internet and mobile technologies has changed dramatically in the past years.

OBJECTIVE:

The aims of this study were to: (1) breakdown the modalities of access and use of the Internet by teenagers to assess risks and risky behaviors; and (2) provide scientific data to evaluate and counsel safe use of the Internet and new technologies by teenagers.

METHODS:

The study was conducted under the program "Strategies for a Better Internet for Children" started in May 2012 by the European Commission. It represents the main result of the project launched by Telecom Italia, "Anche io ho qualcosa da dire" (I too have something to say), thanks to which many contributions were collected and used to develop a survey. The questionnaire was structured in 45 questions, covering three macro areas of interest. It was approved by the Department Board at University of Magna Graecia's School of Medicine. After authorization from the regional high school authority, it was administered to all 1534 students (aged 13-19 years) in the city of Catanzaro, Italy.

RESULTS:

The data was broken down into three main groups: (1) describing education and access to the Internet; (2) methods of use and social networking; and (3) perception and evaluation of risk and risky behaviors. Among noteworthy results in the first group, we can mention that the average age of first contact with information technologies was around 9 years. Moreover, 78.87% (1210/1534) of the interviewed students reported having access to a smartphone or a tablet. Among the results of the second group, we found that the most used social networks were Facebook (85.78%, 1316/1534), YouTube (61.14%, 938/1534), and Google+ (51.56%, 791/1534). About 71.31% (1094/1534) of the interviewed teenagers use their name and surname on social networks, and 40.09% (615/1534) of them knew all their Facebook contacts personally. Among the results of the third group, we found that 7.69% (118/1534) of the interviewed teenagers have uploaded pictures or movies of which they felt ashamed; 27.05% (415/1534) have received invitations from people they met on the Internet to meet in real life; and 8.67% (133/1534) have accepted such invitations.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results offer a breakdown of the teenagers' use of the Internet, focusing on how teenagers learn to use and access it while taking into account factors such as parental coaching, schooling, or self-education. It describes how they approach and interact with social networks and how they perceive risks and risky behaviors on the Internet. Information technology must be seen as an instrument and not as a hindrance. For this to happen, parental guidance, schooling, and medical counseling are needed for a sound development of the child in this critical stage.

KEYWORDS:

Internet; adolescent; data collection; questionnaires; social media

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