A new report into the use of technology by ‘tweens’ (8-12 year olds) and teens (13-17 year olds) shows that children as young as eight are adopting technology faster than expected, particularly social networking.
The report was commissioned by McAfee to identify the gaps between tweens, teens and their parents in the digital world and focuses on the behaviour of the younger age group.
- 67% of tweens are using a social networking site with the most popular being Skype
- despite the age eligibility for Facebook (13 years), one-quarter of all tweens use it with 95% of them having parental approval
- 92% are friends with their parents on Facebook
- 66% use between 3-4 devices that can be internet enabled
- for 77%, their devices are internet enabled and they access it approximately 1.5 hours each day
- the major uses are talking to friends, sending and receiving pictures, homework and gaming.
The President of McAfee Asia Pacific believes it is helpful to have an understanding of what this age group is doing.
"With the increased use of devices by our younger audience, both parents and schools are encouraged to keep a close monitor on their child's online behaviour to ensure they have safe online experiences.
“We have seen that online behaviours become entrenched in the tween age groups, so proactive education is critical within the 8-12 years age bracket," Mr Littleproud said.
The report also highlighted some risky online behaviour.
- 1 in 5 tweens said they chatted to someone online whom they didn’t know
- 6% of teens have met up with an online stranger
- 40% of tweens are using a risky password
- 20% said they have Instagram friends they do not know and they have shared photos with them.
Cyber bullying is also an issue. At the younger ages, 25% said they had witnessed nasty comments onlin edirected at them o rtheirfriend. This increases as they get older with 53% of teens having experienced cyber bullying. While 71% of tweens tell their parents about these incidents, this drops by almost half for teenagers.
Leading parenting expert, psychologist Dr Justin Coulson, said the findings are surprising and encouraging at the same time.
“Both research and experience are confirming that the personal impact that online pressures can have on these age groups from an emotional and developmental perspective is enormous.
“While it’s surprising to see just how integrated tweens are with the online social world, it’s encouraging to see that their parents are involved both online and offline. It's important for parents to be involved in this aspect of their kids' lives."
Mr Littleproud said that the cyber education program that McAfee co-launched with Life Education in February is helping to educate children, parents and teachers about cyber safety. More than 21,000 students were educated on cyber safety in the first term of school.