The online habits of UK tweens are forcing them into complex social situations that require adult skills. In today's tech-obsessed society, UK children, tweens (10- to 13-year-olds) and teens are spending more time online and with digital devices than ever before.
AVG Technologies today announced Digital Maturity, the fourth installment of research from the Digital Diaries series, which studies the digital life cycle of children. Above all, Digital Maturity reveals that while the average 11-year old isn't managing a stock portfolio or paying the mortgage online, their online activity closely mirrors that of an adult. Tweens are spending an increased amount of time on social networks, connected mobile devices, or engaged in online gaming.
The result: tweens are forced into complex social situations that require adult reasoning, well before they're ready.
"Children are online at such an early age that many have developed the technical maturity of adults by their tween years. However, they have not developed the equivalent intellectual or emotional maturity necessary to make the right decisions in the many complex situations they face online," said JR Smith, CEO of AVG Technologies. "It's important that parents understand the role technology plays in their children's lives. This can help their kids be as smart and safe as possible with technology, while giving parents complete peace of mind."
Digital Maturity shows that just one in ten UK parents believe their 10- to 13-year-old is better informed about the Internet than they are. According to the fathers surveyed globally, 87 percent are more likely to say they know the most about the Internet, with only five percent crediting their children with knowing more.
Most UK parents claim not to know what their children actually do online. However, over half (58 percent) of UK parents have secretly logged into their children's computers with the intention of determining their online activities.
Yet, nearly 60 percent of UK parents allow their 10-to 13- year olds to have a PC in the privacy of their bedroom, indicating there is often no consistent, real-time parental supervision in place.
While the survey suggests that the majority of UK parents (88 percent) feel they are savvier about the Internet than their children, there is still plenty of room for concern. 62 percent of parents admit their 10- to 13-year-olds have access to mainstream social networks, directly undermining the established minimum age restriction to join Facebook at 13 years.
Other key findings from this latest round of research are as follows:
- 50% of tweens in the English speaking countries and 44 per cent overall in this age group now use social media on their mobile phones.
- Only 5% of 10-to 13- year olds have been victims of cyber-bullying according to their parents. This ranges 9% in Australia and the US, 6% in the UK to 3% in France.
- Six in ten parents have accessed their kids' PCs to see what they are up to online. US (72 percent) and Canadian (67 percent) are most likely to have done so, compared with UK parents (58 percent).
- Tweens in Italy (90 percent), Czech Republic (86 percent) and UK (83 pecent) are the most prolific users of SMS, whilst France (61 per cent) and Australia (62 percent) used the service the least.
- 58 percent of UK 10-13- year olds use their PC in the privacy of their own home, compared with 81 percent in Germany, 69 per cent in France, 49 percent in Italy, 41 percent in the USA, 36 percent in Australia and 11 percent in the Czech Republic.
- Tweens in the UK (36 percent) are more likely to own a Smartphone than their US (28 percent) and French (16 percent) counterparts.
"Adults often take for granted the decades of training we call upon every time we engage with other people," continued Smith. "And not even we can navigate social situations with perfect ease. Above all, Digital Maturity should encourage parents - and by extension every adult in the proverbial village - to help tweens face online networks with confidence and the safety to speak up when things go awry."