Young Kids Spending More Time Online

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens

Kids get friendly with the Internet. Photo: sxc.hu

This isn't your mama's Internet: Nielsen reports from the month of May found that kids, age 11 and younger, are a rapidly growing group of Internet users -- getting online at higher rates than even their tech-savvy parents.

The first time I used the Internet -- and I'm aging myself, here -- I was a college graduate. The year was 1996. My kids, on the other hand, could both handle a mouse quite nicely by the age of three. The Internet to them isn't a marvel -- it's just another way to entertain themselves, find information and communicate. And a Nielsen report proves that kids are incorporating the Internet into their daily lives.

Nearly one out of ten Internet users is a child younger than 11, and the number of kids in this age group getting online has grown by 18 percent. To compare: In the same time period, the use of the Internet by all other users grew ten percent. Boys spend more time online than girls, but girls surf more websites.

So everyone's online, and in some houses, everyone's got their own computer, too. But is this healthy?Parents are often resistant to things that they didn't experience in their own childhood, and computers are no exception. We're leery of letting our kids get overly involved in computer or video games, because we think they should be outside playing like we were. But at the same time, technology is a part of their childhood, and kids need to learn how to use and enjoy it.

So where do we draw the line? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that kids younger than two get no screen time -- TV or Internet -- at all, since they should be busy learning to, you know, walk and talk. And once they hit the age of two, screen time should be limited to two hours or less a day.

Do you let your young children use the Internet? If so, do you limit their time online? Share your thoughts with us.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.