A recent study by AVG Internet Securities found that small children today are more likely to navigate with a mouse, play a computer game and increasingly — operate a smartphone — than swim, tie their shoelaces or make their own breakfast. AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at how children's interaction with technology has changed.
This is a second piece of research which polled 2,200 mothers with internet access and with children aged
2–5 in Australia and New Zealand, the USA, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan.
Mothers were given a list of tech skills and a list of life skills and asked which ones their very young children had mastered. The key results showed, that:
- More small children can play a computer game than ride a bike. 58% of children aged 2–5 know how to play a 'basic' computer game. In Australia it jumps to 66%, just behind the UK and France, while in New Zealand it is 56%. Even 44% of 2–3 year olds have the ability to play a computer game. By comparison, 43% of kids 2–3 can ride a bike.
- More kids aged 2–5 can play with a smartphone application (19 percent) than tie his or her shoelaces (9%). Almost as many 2–3 year olds (17%) can play with a smartphone application as 4-5 year olds (21%).
- More small children can open a web browser (25%) than swim unaided (20%)
- There is no tech gender divide between young boys and girls. As many boys (58%t) as girls (59%) can play a computer game or make a mobile phone call (28% boys, 29% girls).
- Mothers aged 35 and over are slightly better at teaching their kids 'life skills'. For example 40% of toddlers with mothers aged 35-plus can write their own name compared with 35% of toddlers with mothers aged 34 or younger.
- European children aged 2–5 lead their US, Australian and New Zealand counterparts in knowing how to make a mobile phone call (44% in Italy vs 25% for the USA, 19% in Australia and 18% in New Zealand), playing a computer game (70% UK vs 66% Australia, 61% USA and 56% New Zealand) and operating a computer mouse (78% France vs. 67%USA).
- Almost three times as many Australian and USA kids (30%) can operate at least one smartphone or tablet app than their NZ and Japanese counterparts (12 percent and 11% respectively).
Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist for AVG (AU/NZ), says, “Perhaps the most important piece of data to come out of this survey is the fact that 69% of children aged 2–5 are using a computer in the first place. It’s exciting and commendable that so many parents are teaching their children such valuable computer skills so early on — they will need these skills to succeed later in life, and perhaps increasingly, not so later in life.
“Technology has changed what it means to be a parent raising children today — these children are growing up in an environment that would be unrecognisable to their parents. The smartphone and the computer are increasingly taking the place of the TV as an education and entertainment tool for children,” says Borrett.
“You want kids to be computer literate, but how much is too much? If two to five- year-olds can log onto the internet, locate and play a simple computer game, what will they be able to do when they’re six, seven or eight years old?”
About AVG Digital Diaries
AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at children of different age groups. With this year long piece of research, AVG aims to conduct a comprehensive study about children's technology habits. The first piece of research, entitled 'Digital Birth' released in October 2010, found that most babies and toddlers have an online footprint by the time they are six months old.