Saturday, February 5, 2011

Your kid can't ride a bike or swim, but she can out-smart you on computers

Kids today are more likely to navigate with a mouse, play a computer game and increasingly – operate a smartphone – than swim, tie their shoelaces or make their own breakfast. This is according to a new ‘Digital Diaries’ study from Internet Security Company AVG (www.avg.com). AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at how children's interaction with technology has changed.

This second piece of research polled 2,200 mothers with Internet access and with children aged 2-5 in the U.S., Canada, the EU5 (U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain), Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The mothers were given a list of tech skills and a list of life skills and asked which ones their very young children had mastered. The key results are as follows:

1.      More small children can play a computer game than ride a bike. 58 percent of children aged 2-5 know how to play a 'basic' computer game. For the U.K. and France that jumps to 70 percent. Even 44 percent of 2-3 year olds have the ability to play a computer game. By comparison, 43 percent of kids 2-3 can ride a bike

2.      More kids aged 2-5 can play with a smartphone application (19 percent) than tie his or her shoelaces (9 percent). Almost as many 2-3 year olds (17 percent) can play with a smartphone application as 4-5 year olds (21 percent)

3.      More small children can open a web browser (25 percent) than swim unaided (20 percent)

4.      There is no tech gender divide between young boys and girls. As many boys (58 percent) as girls (59 percent) can play a computer game or make a mobile phone call (28 percent boys, 29 percent girls)

5.      Mothers aged 35 and over are slightly better at teaching their kids 'life skills.' For example 40 percent of toddlers with mothers aged 35-plus can write their own name compared with 35 percent of toddlers with mothers aged 34 or younger

6.      European children aged 2-5 lead their U.S. counterparts in knowing how to make a mobile phone call (44 percent in Italy vs. 25 percent for the U.S.), playing a computer game (70 percent U.K. vs. 61 percent U.S.) and operating a computer mouse (78 percent France vs. 67 percent U.S.)

“Technology has changed what it means to be a parent raising children today – these children are growing up in an environment that would be unrecognizable to their parents. The smart-phone and the computer are increasingly taking the place of the TV as an education and entertainment tool for children,” said AVG CEO, J.R. Smith. “As our research shows, parents need to start educating kids about navigating the online world safely at an earlier age than they might otherwise have thought.”

AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at children of different age groups. With this year long piece of research, AVG aims to conduct a comprehensive study about children's technology habits. The first piece of research, entitled ‘Digital Birth’ released in October 2010, found that most babies and toddlers have an online footprint by the time they are six months old.

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