Children's access to quality health information during COVID-19

11 Jun 2020

IRTIS members David Šmahel and Rostislav Zlámal contributed to a new UNICEF research brief focusing on children's access to health information online and their ability to verify truthfulness of such information in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.


Children’s digital access – or lack thereof – during the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly determined whether children can continue their education, seek information, stay in touch with friends and family, and enjoy digital entertainment. With over 1.5 billion children across 190 countries confined to their homes, active video games or dance videos may also be their best chance to exercise. The rationale for closing digital divides has never been starker or more urgent.

This data-driven research brief explores three research questions. 1) How much do we know about children’s basic access to the internet across the globe? 2) Do children regularly use the internet to access health information? 3) Are children able to verify the truth of online information?

The brief analyzes survey data from the ITU World Telecommunications/ICT Indicators database, as well as household-survey data collected from approximately 22,000 children aged 12-16, generated by the collective work of the EU Kids Online and Global Kids Online research networks. It concludes with recommendations on how stakeholders can ensure that children’s health information needs are better supported during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Kardefelt-Winther, D., Twesigye, R., Zlámal, R., Saeed, M., Smahel, D., Stoilova, M., & Livingstone, S. (2020). Digital Connectivity During COVID-19: Access to vital information for every child, Innocenti Research Briefs no. 2020-12, UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, Florence

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

Download the research brief here

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