Children today are spending an increased amount of time online, according to the second part of the global study carried out by Kaspersky Lab.
Titled “Growing Up Online: Connected Kids,” the study found that 44 percent of children admit to being online constantly and more than half said they cannot do without a smartphone in their lives.
According to the study, children are keeping their devices with them continuously through the day and night. Four-in-ten are reluctant to put their smartphone down during mealtimes and 53 percent continue to use devices in social meetings with family or friends. Also, 43 percent of parents admitted that their kids take their mobile phones to bed with them, which increases to 64 percent of those aged 14 to 16.
When constantly on their devices, children surveyed said they are mainly using social media and messaging apps, playing online games or watching movies. Surprisingly, 65 percent of kids in the U.S. – compared to 31 percent globally– have made a financial transaction on the Internet and would like to do so again. Many also prefer using the Internet to obtain information over any other source and trust the information they get from the Internet almost as much as they trust information from friends and family.
With these harmless activities also comes the potential for risky behaviour. When online, one in three children lie about their age, 40 percent disclose sensitive information, 14 percent share where they live and 11 percent share what their parents earn. These types of activities leave the potential for cybercriminals to build a profile of that child.
“As parents we assume to know how attached our children are to their devices, but this study shows how much they are truly connected,” Michael Canavan, vice president at Kaspersky Lab North America, says. “Learning from studies like this, we as parents need to cultivate open and honest relationships with our kids about acceptable device use, Internet best practices and online dangers they may not be able to recognize. We also need to teach them what is right and wrong, just like our parents did, but with the added responsibility of including a virtual element that our parents never had to deal with.”
Janice Richardson, Senior Advisor at European Schoolnet adds that “the Internet is shaping the behavior of children and young people in wide-ranging aspects of their lives. It is the shared role of the family, school and the community in general, to help them use online tools and platforms responsibly and maintain a healthy life balance. It is important that online technology becomes an integral part of a child’s learning activities, whether at home or at school. More needs to be done to bring school education into line with the reality of today’s world, and to stop undermining the very important role that parents play in educating their children, despite not always being able to match their technical skills.”