Press release №2336
17.05.2021
INTERNET AND CHILDREN: OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS

IN BRIEF

  • Since 2006, the share of those who agree that the Internet is full of unreliable information has increased by 30 p.p.
  • Development of information space uniting the entire world is beneficial to society
  • this opinion is shared by every second Russian (54%)
  • A vast majority of parents take action to protect their child from dangerous information on the Internet (81%)

March 22, 2021. The following information describes the findings of a survey about the Russian perceptions of the Internet and possible restrictions.

What is the Internet, and what kind of information is spread online?

Russians view the Internet as an uncontrolled information space where you can encounter different types of information, including unreliable information (57%; +30 p.p. since 2006). One-third of Russians believe that the Internet is likely a powerful resource of reliable and up-to-date information (34%); this opinion is popular among those living in large cities (44%-46% in metropolitan areas and million-plus cities).

As seven years ago, every second Russian (54%; +1 p.p. since 2013) believes that the growth of the Internet uniting the whole world is beneficial to our society. This stance is expressed by persons with higher and incomplete higher education diplomas (62%). Thirty-two percent of Russians point out that the Internet harms the society.

As to negative opinions about the Internet, one-third of respondents (35%) agree that the Internet threatens family values (+7 p.p. since 2014); the majority disagrees with that (60%). Only 27% consider that the Internet poses a demographic threat; 62% disagree with that (62%). Thirty-five percent of Russians think that the Internet can threaten stability in the country (+10 p.p. since 2014); 56% disagree with that. Fifty percent of respondents consider that foreign countries use the Internet against Russia (41% in 2014); 31% oppose them.  Forty-six percent of Russians are confident that the Internet increases the suicide rate; they are opposed by 43%.

Children online

Thirty-five percent of the Russian families have children under 12 who use the Internet at home (+9 p.p. since 2012.). An overwhelming majority of parents take action to protect their children from danger coming from the Internet   (81%). The most popular measure is “parental control” from the Internet service provider or parental control software (41%, +28 p.p.). One-third of Russians stay with their child while the child is surfing the Internet (31%). Many respondents install pop-ups blocking tools (17%), use certain browser settings (17%) or install an antivirus program (16%).

Russian nationwide VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on March 7, 2021. A total of 1,600 of Russians aged 18 and older took part in the survey. Results are based on telephone interviews. Stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of Russian landline and mobile phone numbers was used. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes to the wording of questions and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

Please choose a statement about the Internet that best suits your point of view (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  2006 2021
The Internet is the most powerful resource to get up-to-date and reliable information 44 34
The Internet is uncontrolled information space full of unreliable and even harmful information   27 57
Don’t know 29 9
Please choose a statement about the Internet that best suits your point of view (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Total respondents Moscow and St Petersburg Million-plus cities 500-950 thousand inhabitants 100-500 thousand Less than 100 thousand Rural area
The Internet is the most powerful resource to get up-to-date and reliable information 34 44 46 26 34 33 25
The Internet is uncontrolled information space  full of unreliable and even harmful information  57 45 48 65 59 57 64
Don’t know 9 11 6 9 7 10 11
In your opinion, is the growth of the Internet, information space uniting the whole world, beneficial or harmful to our society? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  2013 2021
Rather beneficial 53 54
Rather harmful 24 32
Don’t know 23 14
In your opinion, is the growth of the Internet, information space uniting the whole world, beneficial or harmful to our society? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Total respondents Incomplete secondary secondary Secondary special Incomplete higher, higher
Rather beneficial 54 35 49 47 62
Rather harmful 32 48 37 35 27
Don’t know 14 17 14 18 11
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Completely  disagree Likely to disagree Likely to agree Completely  agree Don’t know

The Internet is a threat to family values

2014

17

35

22

6

20

2021 24 36 20 15 5
The Internet is a threat to the demographic situation in Russia 2014 19 38 17 4 22
2021 26 36 15 12 11
The Internet is a threat to political stability in Russia 2014 15 35 20 5 25
2021 21 35 22 13 9
The Internet is used by foreign countries against Russia  2014 10 21 30 11 28
2021 19 22 24 26 9
The Internet considerably increases the suicide rate   2014 10 23 25 8 34
2021 15 28 26 20 11
Are there children under twelve using the Internet at home in your family? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  2012 2021
Yes 26 35
No 73 65
Refusal to answer 1
Do you take any action to protect children from such information on the Internet? If so, what kind of measures? (closed-ended question, several answers, % of those who have children under 12 using the Internet at home; open-ended question, any number of answers)
  2012 2021
Parental control program (software by the Internet service provider) 13 41
I stay with my child  in front of the computer while he/she is surfing the Internet 33 31
Pop-up windows blocking tools 20 17
Brower settings 8 17
Anti-virus programs 21 16
Restricting the access to the Internet*  - 8
Talking to children about it *  - 2
I look through the Internet search history*  - 2
Other 9 2
No measures 23 15
Don’t know  0 4

*These response options were proposed by respondents themselves and not chosen from the list.

  Results of our study
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