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Digital Maturity? Latest AVG Digital Diaries Installment Reveals Average 11-Year-Old Has “Adult Skills” in Technology

November 2011 by AVG

In today’s tech-centric society, children, tweens and teens are spending more time online and with digital devices than ever before. To develop a better understanding of how this impacts the lives of today’s youth, AVG Technologies established Digital Diaries a series of studies that examines technology habits in different age groups.

AVG today shares Digital Maturity, the fourth installment of research from the series, which studied the digital life cycle of children. Above all, Digital Maturity reveals that while the average 11-year-old isn’t managing a stock portfolio or paying the mortgage online, their online activity closely mirrors that of an adult. Tweens are spending an increased amount of time on social networks, connected mobile devices, or engaged in online gaming.

The result: tweens are forced into complex social situations that require adult reasoning – long before they’re ready.

“Children are online at such an early age that many have developed the technical maturity of adults by their tween years. However, they have not developed the equivalent intellectual or emotional maturity necessary to make the right decisions in the many complex situations they face online,” said JR Smith, CEO of AVG Technologies. “It’s important that parents understand the role technology plays in their children’s lives. It can help their kids be as smart and safe as possible with technology, while giving parents complete peace of mind.”

Who Knows Best?

Digital Maturity shows that overall only 8 per cent of parents believe their 10- to 13- year-old is better informed about the Internet than they are. Fathers are more likely to say they know the most about the Internet, with only two per cent crediting their children with knowing more.

According to parents in every country surveyed, over half of all 10-to 13- year olds have their own PC (excluding New Zealand and Japan). This indicates there is often no consistent, real-time parental supervision in place.

All Things Social

While the survey suggests that a majority of parents surveyed (92 per cent) feel they are savvier about the Internet than their children, there is plenty more room for concern. A staggering 58 per cent of parents admit their 10- to 13- year-olds have access to mainstream social networks, directly contravening the established minimum age restriction to join Facebook at 13 years.

Other key findings from this latest round of research are as follows:

• 50% of tweens in the English speaking countries, and 44 per cent overall in this age group now use social media on their mobile phones.

• Only one in twenty 10- to 13- year olds have been victims of cyber-bullying according to their parents. This ranges from 9 per cent in Australia and the US, to 3 per cent in France.

• Two-thirds of parents say they know their kids’ passwords. In the US, this rises to 78 per cent.

• Six in ten parents have accessed their kids’ PCs to see what they are up to online. US (72 per cent) and Canadian (67 per cent) are most likely to have done so, compared with UK parents (58 per cent).

• Tweens in Italy (90 per cent), Czech Republic (86 per cent) and UK (83 per cent) are the most prolific users of SMS, whilst France (61 per cent) and Australia (62 per cent) used the service the least.

• 58 per cent of UK 10-13- year olds use their PC in the privacy of their own home, compared with 81 per cent in Germany, 69 per cent in France, 49 per cent in Italy, 41 per cent in the USA, 36 per cent in Australia and 11 per cent in the Czech Republic.

• Tweens in the UK (36 per cent) are more likely to own a Smartphone than their US (28 per cent) and French (16 per cent) counterparts.

• Italian (76 per cent) and Spanish (72 per cent) tweens are most likely to have their own personal computer, while New Zealanders (40 per cent) and Canadians (53 per cent) are the least likely to.

“Adults often take for granted the decades of training we call upon every time we engage with other people,” continued Smith. “And not even we can navigate social situations with perfect ease. Above all, Digital Maturity should encourage parents – and by extension every adult in the proverbial village – to help tweens face online networks with confidence and the safety to speak up when things go awry.”




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