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Today's Internet debutant is 3-4 years old

Published måndag 18 oktober 2010 kl 15.12
Younger and younger children start using computers and internet

A new study shows that children start using internet ever earlier. Five years ago, kids would start trying out internet at the age of 9, now the internet debutants are three to four years old.

Today 93 % of all the 5-9 year olds, but also many in the youngest group, go online.

It is the parents that have been answering questions about which extent the children will come in touch with various media. The children were divided into two groups, children who are 2-5 years old and, children who are 5-9 years old.

We hear Ann Katrin Agebäck at the Swedish Media Council, which commissioned the study.

She says that "they do simple things, mainly games and watching clips on youtube, drawing and painting, which traditionally was done in colouring books. Since they cannot read and write they do activities which mean simple clicks online."

Almost half of the two-year-olds have used a computer and it is in particular children of younger parents, under 30, that use computers and internet. They have themselves grown up with internet and computer games.

The attitudes to internet also seem to be changing.

She says that most parents are very positive to their children using internet, they think it is educational, and stimulates the imagination of children and that it is a way to socialise.

To start with, there is not much difference between how girls and boys use the internet, but that changes when the children start school at 6 or 7, from then on there are clear differences, so that girls spend time on what is traditionally seen as girls stuff on internet, while boys concentrate on "boy's stuff".

But not all is about staying online. When the parents to the children in the older age group - from 5 to 9 - were asked what their kids prefer to do in their free time, the most common answer was to "play". As a shared second came "meeting friends" and "watching tv or dvd".

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