Protecting Kid’s in Today’s Australian Digital Playground
Today AVG Technologies released the third installment of its yearlong Digital Diaries study, which was kicked off in October 2010 to discover how today’s digital world is impacting the way we live.
The surveys so far have revealed some stunning insights into how the Internet has rapidly changed our daily interactions and well-being — especially when it comes to children who, as the prior surveys show, are being handed online identities before they are even born and are learning computer skills before traditional life skills.
The third phase of AVG’s study delves into the increasingly digitally-literate group of 6-to-9 year-olds and their parents. While it came as no surprise that interactions that once took place on the schoolyard, football field or in the cafeteria are now just as commonplace on the Internet, this latest survey shows the digital playground is not as well monitored as the physical one. In fact, roughly half of today’s children are regularly talking to their friends online and using social networks, yet 58% of their parents admit they don’t have a firm grasp of how or who their children are interacting with online.
This is even more troubling when coupled with the fact that one out of six 6-to-9-year-olds have experienced what their parents consider objectionable or aggressive behavior online. Since the arrival of the Internet and especially social networking, many of us allow our kids to interact with others online in ways we would never allow in the physical realm. For parents and kids alike, the Internet creates a false sense of security — one that predators willfully exploit.
AVG’s other findings include:
- A staggering 60% of Australian 6-to-9-year-olds use some kind of kids’ social network such as Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters or WebKinz.
- Australian children are the highest users of email at 28 per cent, against the one in five global average use. 14% are on Facebook, according to their parents.
- Forty-four per cent of Australian 6 to 9-year-olds talk to their friends on the Internet.
- Australian children average 3.9 hours online each week, slightly more than the worldwide average of 3.5 hours per week.
- Only 62 per cent of Australian parents were certain their family computer has parental controls or a safety program in place.
Today’s kids are clearly comfortable in using the web to interact with others online. But parents are often surprised by just how savvy their kids are online, how they conduct themselves online, and what they encounter online. As we have seen through prior surveys, computer literacy in children starts at a very young age. This means they can be exposed to serious dangers at a young age, too.
How can parents better monitor their kids’ use of the Internet? How can they give their children the freedom to use the Internet to explore their world without putting them at risk?
AVG’s mantra is people-powered protection, but that doesn’t only apply to our software solutions. Our goal is to harness the tremendous power of the community at large to drive deeper discussion, awareness and consensus in how we embrace the Internet in as safe a manner for us, our kids, and each other as possible.
So we ask you. What do our survey results mean to you? Will they change the way you manage the time your kids spend on the computer?
It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Week 2011 here in Australia. AVG (AU/NZ) is working with the Australian Federal Government to help raise awareness of online safety issues such as this.