November 21, 2011
Digital Adults: Pre-teens are on Facebook and Twitter
An eleven year old trying to create a Facebook profile is likely to be met with eight simple words: ”Sorry, you are ineligible to sign up for Facebook.” Most eleven year olds, are unlikely to be deterred and will simply add a couple of years to their birth date. That’s according to research performed for AVG’s Digital Diaries series that found that most kids have reached “digital maturity”-that is, are on mainstream social sites- by age 11.
AVG, an online security firm, commissioned the report for the fourth installment of its Digital Diaries, a look at how technology is “fundamentally changing the nature of childhood.”
The research for Digital Diaries has involved a different age group at each stage. Previous studies looked at everything from the digital footprints of infants to the higher likelihood that a toddler can play a computer game than ride a bike.
The latest survey of 4,000 parents in 10 countries found that 58% of their kids aged 10-13 had access to a “mainstream” social network, such as Facebook or Twitter (or their regional counterparts like Tuenti in Spain.) In over half of those countries, the age at which kids began accessing adult social networking sites was just 11. In the US, 53% of parents surveyed shared that their 10-13 year olds were networking.
The survey responses came from parents and, of those who know their kids are online, 40% admitted that they do not monitor their computers. Two thirds, however, claimed they could directly access their kids’ accounts and over half did.
Yet, even with parents who know their kids are on adult social networks, kids are circumventing their parents’ controls. In fact, they have their own access to the Internet. Most 10-13 year olds have their own computers and Australia is the only country where the computer is likely to be in the family living room. An increasing number of pre-teens are also accessing social media on their smartphones-away from parental eyes.
The study results raise questions of Internet safety and security for preteen. Parents who are aware of their kids’ online habits may be better able to take the advantages of a wired life. Conceivably, they would also be better prepared to deal with the dangers, such as cyber bullying.
AVG’s recommendations? Be aware of where your kids are online, keep up a dialogue with your children about the pros and cons of Internet and social network use and consider installing software in both computers and smartphones that allow you to monitor your children’s online use, but also their safety.
Image: Digital Diaries and Facebook screenshot
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