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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Children's website competition
Stephen Cole
By Stephen Cole
BBC Click Online reporter

Children using computers
Many children nowadays are very computer literate
A new global competition, launched this year, aims to get children more involved with running websites.

Research suggests under-18s often use the internet very differently from adults, who tend to use it for things such as home banking, booking flights, and shopping.

Younger people, especially teenagers, use it more for entertainment and socialising.

And they are regular users, too. In the US, for example, studies suggest they go online on average every other day.

But while there is plenty on the web specifically for the younger surfer, how much is actually created by them?

This is what the competition aims to address. It is being run by Childnet, which has been campaigning for the last 10 years to make the internet a safer place for children.

Clear and simple

Childnet's Stephen Carrick-Davies says that working closely with young people has taught them several things.

"It's so important to keep things simple. Young people don't over-complicate things.

"They keep their projects clear, and that resonates across barriers, across languages and across the world."

"The second thing we've learnt is that it's really exciting when children communicate with their peers.

(Giving a voice to children affected by war)
(Young activists fighting global warming)
(Safe chat, games, reviews and more)
"Of course the internet gives them that platform. They don't have to take their content from the big multinationals or corporations - they can talk and communicate in a language and style of their own.

"This is what we call the dot.hope effect of the net - where children use the medium to communicate positively."

Thirdly, Mr Carrick-Davies cites what he calls "peopleology", as opposed to technology: bringing people together to learn from each other.

"Over the last seven years of running this programme we've been in Sidney, Paris, New York, Washington... all over the world, bringing kids together, sharing each other's experiences."

Helen Penn, also from Childnet, says that as well as games sites, children are keen on communication, chat sites and messaging, where they can discuss problems.

"The internet is a way of talking to each other in a way that they can't in the classroom. They talk to each other on a very intimate level."

Although this raises potential problems, she says, it can also be a very positive experience "because it means young people are now helping each other in a way they couldn't before".

  • Taking part

    The closing date for next year's competition is 6 December.

    The organisers are looking for young people who have great ideas to use the internet positively with peers.

    Entries should be international, innovative, and be able to make a difference among young people.

    Please see the external internet links on the right-hand side of this page for information on safe surfing as well as some sites that might help inspire entries to the competition.

    Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.

    Other items in this programme:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


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