Notes from Lisbeth K. Haugstrup, KLF, Church & Media, Denmark

Notes from Lisbeth K. Haugstrup, KLF, Church & Media, Denmark
Subject: The Intergenerational Gap

KLF, Church & Media, Denmark
Our organisation KLF, Church & Media is over 80 old and has approx. 25.000 members, The membership fee is the principal source of financing for the organisation.
The organisation is based on Christian Lutheran values and during the first 50 years the work was focused mainly on lobbying for Christian values to be represented at Danish public service stations.
The last 20 years issues such as journalistic ethics (protection of privacy and human rights in the media and as well the protection of children against potentially harmful media content through prohibiting access and media education .
We consider that encouraging Media awareness among parents is very important in order to protect and reassure children in their lives with new media.

The Intergenerational Gap
The Intergenerational Gap is still an important issue today, even though young parents today are much more media literate than for instance my generation.
However, the way we communicate with friends and in the family using online media, influences our relationships with each other. It takes media education to be aware of how various media change our relationships, and which changes we welcome and which we want to try and avoid. This presentation is dealing with a survey carried out in 2008 by the Danish Consumer Council (governmental) and it tells us something about how Danish children use online media, what parents think of it, and where the intergenerational gap can be identified.
We think that it is very important parent are told how important their parental role still is – also when it comes to guide lines on how to behave yourself online.

Almost all children have access to the internet at home in Denmark
About 78 % of all Danish households had internet access in 2007.
The figures are from the National Danish Statistics Office 2007. According to the European SAFT "Safety and Awareness for Tweens” survey from 2007 Danish children mostly use the internet for : communication via MSN, they use google daily and about 1/3 use online games often. Finally they use e-mail very infrequent, but they listen to and download music from the internet very often.

The Danish Consumer Council Survey on children’s use of virtual worlds
According to a survey carried out by the Danish Consumer Council in 2008 (300 children aged 9 to 16 were interviewed) Danish children on average spend 5 hours a week in virtual universes, whereas 1/3 spend 7 hours a week. Most of their time in those universes is spent on gaming, chatting, meeting up with friends and buying or swopping virtual objects.

According to the survey 25% of the parents have visited the virtual universes their children are active on. And 50% have only heard of them!!!!!! and 20 % do not even know what virtual universes are. When it comes to online games 16% of all parents do not know the existence of online gaming. We think these figures are high. Parents must know what their children are doing on the internet in order to support them, when they experience problems with for instance bullying.

Parents may think they already know how to deal with the internet, because they are trading, seeking information and chatting on Facebook
But children use media differently as we have seen. They don’t use email and in Denmark virtual universes are becoming increasingly popular among children down to the age of 5-6.

The survey also tells us, that many parents in Denmark trust their children are competent in the virtual world without knowing themselves what is going on there, and what their children are doing there. Therefore we suggest:

- Parents get more information about and experience with virtual universes (children and parents could meet at schools, together with an experienced media user)
- Children become involved in discussions on how to behave in online relationships (children and parents could meet, together with an experienced media user)
- Children and parents are made to understand what it means to share private information online
- Parents and children are taught or informed better on how to evaluate the safety measures that the various virtual universes offer. We will suggest the virtual media producers to create courses in this matter.

Some sites are very popular among the 9 to 16 year old. The sites that were the most often mentioned were the following: World of Warcraft, Runescape, Habbohotel, Go Supermodel and Counter Strike.

The ready made console game is being replaced by an online version, where user creativity is important. Increasing user involvement also means increasing user responsibility. Or example: You chose character and personality; no one knows who you are online; you can buy things.
All these things are fun, but they necessitate adult involvement.

We think the relationship between parent and child would benefit from creating real life happenings, where both parts meet in order to have fun together and at the same time improve awareness about differences between reality and virtual life.

Many parents (28 pct.) trust that their children are able to judge on whether the virtual universes offer positive or negative life values. But many of those 28 % do not know what their children are doing on the internet. We think, that trusting children without knowing what is going on is not necessarily good, it means you hand over the responsibility to the children.
A survey carried out by he Danish Media Council in February 2009 shows that 1 out of 4 children between 9- and 10 has got his own social profile in an internet community. At that age children need parents to help them sort out the differences between private and public life communication.

See the following recent initiatives for more information to parents and youngsters

1. The Public Consumer Board has very recently launched a new site for parents.
Parents have 3 headings under which they can share information with other parents. There are: “Questions”, “Experiences to share” and “Sites to be recommended”. A very good idea, a bit like wikepedia, no experts are available.

2. Gaming school is a very recent initiative undertaken by the organisation Copenhagen e-sport.

This organisation developed as some people saw the need to insist on gaming as a professional sport discipline just like chess or football. Youngsters need to know their leisure activity is acceptable and not some underground phenomenon.
3. A virtual as well as a real house for chatting and many creative activities. Especially focused on support for youngsters who seek adult support in their lives. Anonymity is assured.

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