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Many Swiss schoolchildren exposed to online hazards

Swiss schoolchildren are exposed to worryingly high levels of cyber-bullying, internet grooming, privacy violations, pornography and other dangerous online content, a survey conducted by the federal authorities has warned.

As a result, half of the youngsters surveyed said they did not feel safe online. A third also admitted to excessive internet usage, with a quarter saying they have unsuccessfully tried to cut down on time spent online.

The dangers of the internet rose with age. Some 10% of 10-year-olds said they had been the victims of discrimination on the internet, while one in 20 reported cyber-bullying. Half of children aged 14 had seen pornography.

All of the children in the 15 to 16-year-old age category reported that they had been exposed to risks from strangers on the internet at least once in their lives. Two out of five said they had been asked for sexual information, perhaps related to grooming by online predators.

Half of the respondents in this older age group also said they had suffered violations of their privacy, for example personal information being put online without their permission.

The findings were presented by the “Expert Forum on the Protection of Minors in the Media”, a national platform set up by the government to promote media skills among minors.

The “EU Kids Online Switzerland 2019” survey interviewed 1,026 pupils aged between nine and 16 and teachers at 67 school classes in German and French-speaking Switzerland. Due to a change in survey methodology, results are not directly comparable with previous findings from 2013.