Kids reach digital maturity at 11

Many are on Facebook at this age, and not necessarily clued up about the dangers
Kerry Butters

November 15, 2011

Recent research carried out by AVG has found that by the age of eleven, most children have reached “digital maturity or digital adulthood.”

A survey of 4000 parents with kids aged between 10-13 years found that 58% of children used adult social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Whilst pre-teens in the UK generally join the sites aged around 11 years, this was even lower in Italy and Spain at 10 years old and in Germany slightly higher at 12 years.

The survey is the latest in ongoing research into kids on the net carried out by AVG, called the “Digital Diaries” study.

60% of parents questioned said that they monitor their child’s activity on social media sites and two-thirds said that they know their offspring’s password and check up on their child’s usage whilst they are away from the computer.

This of course is responsible parenting, although it constitutes something of a worry for the remaining 40% of kids whose parents don’t keep an eye on their online activities.

The report also shows that many kids are capable of ensuring what they do online is kept from parents. More and more of them have a computer in their bedroom and the ever-increasingly popularity of smartphones means that kids can access social media sites away from the family home and without interference.

Whilst a report out last week showed that many children are becoming a lot more aware of the dangers facing them online, a proportion of kids are still not completely clued up.

The AVG report highlights the fact that the majority of kids have a computer in their bedroom in every country apart from New Zealand and Japan, and Australia is the only country in which a PC is most likely to be in the living room.

However, whilst debate rages about children’s use of social networking sites, the reality is that many kids under the required 13 years of age do use such sites.

Bearing this in mind, alongside smartphone use, AVG agrees that the key element to protecting kids online is education.

Teaching kids about what they should do with random friends requests, cyberbullies, inappropriate material being sent to them and people asking for personal information should be a priority.

Alongside this, it’s increasingly important for children to be made aware of the dangers of malware and malicious links and videos which are often found on social media sites.

Additionally, with mobile malware continuing to prove a rich source of income for cybercriminals, kids need a thorough education on the dangers posed across a number of platforms.

As the world becomes increasingly connected, superfast broadband is on the way and data consumption continues to rise, surely now would be a good time to ensure that all round cyber safety is included in the national curriculum.

Whilst the buck stops with parents in theory, many parents aren’t tech savvy enough to fully understand the dangers themselves. This may not be true of ‘stranger danger’ online, many parents are aware of this, but the dangers posed by malware are not necessarily understood by all.

As cybercrime continues to boom and more technological and industrial targets present themselves, future generations need to be fully conversant with the issues should we hope to ever get a handle on online safety.

Whilst there has been a recent focus on cyberbulling in schools around the world, kids technology education needs to be better rounded and provide a clear picture into all of the potential online dangers out there.


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