The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canadian kids can navigate a tablet before they can tie their laces: report

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TORONTO - A global study of how young kids are using the Internet found Canadians were spending less time online and were less likely to have their own email address or social media account.

Still, more of the three- to five-year-old Canadian children involved in the study knew how to use a mouse and play computer games than ride a bike or write their name.

The survey of more than 6,000 mothers in 10 countries was conducted by security software company AVG Technologies, which researched how kids between the ages of three to five and six to nine were engaged with the Internet.

About 89 per cent of the kids in the older group were already Internet users, while the figure was one percentage point higher in Canada. A whopping 97 per cent of the Brazilian kids and 96 per cent of the British children in that age bracket were familiar with the Internet.

When the parents of the six- to nine-year-old kids were asked how long they allowed their children to go online the most common reply was between two to five hours a week (42 per cent), followed by less than two hours weekly (36 per cent), five to 10 hours a week (16 per cent) and more than ten hours weekly (seven per cent).

About 40 per cent of the Canadian parents said they limited Internet time to less than two hours a week and 48 per cent said they allowed two to five hours of web time weekly.

Although it's emerged as a bit of a trend among digitally obsessed parents, few involved in the survey said they made a point of registering an email address for their baby or toddler.

Just eight per cent of the parents said they reserved an email address with their child's name, while six per cent of the Canadian moms did so. Sixteen per cent of Brazilian moms had staked out email addresses for their kids.

Just two per cent of the Canadian moms said they had signed up for social media accounts in their young kids' names, while it was six per cent globally. Brazilians, again, were the most eager to set up an early online presence for their children, with 12 per cent of the moms surveyed admitting they had started social networking on their kids' behalf.

As for what the younger three- to five-year-old kids were doing themselves, 78 per cent of the Canadian tots could already use a computer mouse, 76 per cent could play a basic computer game, 54 per cent knew how to turn a computer on and off, 40 per cent could navigate a tablet or smartphone, 19 per cent could competently browse the web, and 16 per cent could make a phone call.

Meanwhile, 85 per cent could recognize their name and 56 per cent could write it out, 65 per cent could ride a bike, 47 per cent knew their address, 38 per cent knew their mother's phone number, and 28 per cent could tie their laces.

The Canadian kids were above the global average for mastering most of the non-digital skills that researchers asked about and were also ahead of their international counterparts when it came to knowing how to use a mouse, play a computer game and browse the web.

The online survey of 6,017 parents in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, the U.K. and U.S. was conducted during November and December.

The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population like traditional telephone polls.

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