This thesis deals with the following questions: What do children find negative on the Internet? What counter strategies do they use? How have they developed these strategies? The method used is one-to-one online interviews and the analyses are qualitative in nature. The sample is children in grade 6 of the Swedish compulsory school, aged between 11 and 13. 104 children, 52 girls and 52 boys, from different parts of Sweden were interviewed.
The media debate seems to display consensus regarding what threats the Internet poses to young people. The conclusion of this thesis is, however, that children’s views of the Internet in many ways differ from the media related adult view. The children of this study do not express a great deal of anxiety about the negative sides of the Internet. They are aware of, and can describe many downsides but these are not present in their everyday use of the Internet. Digging deeper it turns out that many children have in fact well-developed counter strategies. However, these strategies are not conscious in the sense that the children discuss them. Instead, they seem integrated in their online environment. The counter strategies have been developed by the children alone or together with peers. In some, but remarkably few, cases adults have been giving tips or teaching the children strategies. Nevertheless, the study does not paint a picture of naïve children, unable to see actual threats, but of responsible young citizens who are aware of the threats that exist in their online setting – sometimes from personal experience – and have developed methods to avoid such threats.