Kids nowadays tend to shift from offline to online as they grow, according to a recent joint survey in six countries.
“Our study has shown that as kids grow, they tend to switch from the physical world to the online world in almost every field of their lives. We see a clear trend that the older children get, the more their life depends on Internet access,” said Andrei Mochola, head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab, which did the survey with iconKids & Youth online on 3,780 families with children aged 8 – 16 (one parent and one child per family) in the US, France, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy.
The iconKids & Youth is a European-based child and youth research agency.
According to the survey, the Internet has widely influenced children’s lives, especially in terms of communication and education, with social media cited as a major influence in the way people communicate with each other.
Forty-nine percent of teenagers said that they “can’t live without social media” but only one-fifth of children aged 8-10 said the same.
The Internet has become a tool for students’ learning, with 39 percent of respondents aged 14-16 and 26 percent aged 8-10 preferring to study online than offline, the survey said.
The rate of the teenagers preferring to study online has grown by 13 percent compared to the rate of the children under 10 years old who claimed the same, the survey said.
The results also suggested that the older the children would get, the more they relied on the Internet for activities.
Parents of 8-10 year olds admitted that their kids would take their mobile phones to bed with them. This number has grown to 41 percent for parents of 11-13 year olds and has reached 64 percent for parents of 14-16 year olds, the survey said.
Moreover, the survey also revealed that 4 out of 10 were reluctant to put their smartphone down even during mealtimes.
“In such circumstances, it is essential that parents explain to their kids that apart from all the positive things the Internet brings, there are also dangers that a child might not be able to recognize,” said Mochola.
What parents must do
“Parental control programs can protect kids from the information that is not suitable for them, and will notify parents about the online dangers their children may be facing online. It can of course be hard to explain to a child, especially taking into account that today’s kids are digital natives – they often think they know how to use the Internet better than their parents,” said Mochola.
This is why, Mochola said, “Our society – especially parents – need to learn how to communicate online dangers to children in a relevant but understandable manner.”
“The Internet is shaping the behavior of children and young people in wide-ranging aspects of their lives. It is the shared role of the family, school and the community in general, to help them use online tools and platforms responsibly and maintain a healthy life balance,” said Janice Richardson, senior adviser at European Schoolnet, a network of 30 European ministries of education.
Richardson said it was important that “online technology becomes an integral part of a child’s learning activities, whether at home or at school”.
“More needs to be done to bring school education into line with the reality of today’s world, and to stop undermining the very important role that parents play in educating their children, despite not always being able to match their technical skills,” said Richardson. Chrisheil Acal