Parents say the average acceptable age for their child to use and call a video game console their own is 7.34 years old, which also represents the youngest age for a child to own any personal technology device, according to an IEEE national survey of 1,000 parents with children in grades K-8.
Of all the other gadgets listed, including e-readers (7.72), MP3 players (7.74), tablets (8.03), and netbooks (9.23), cellphones were given the highest average age for children to use and call their own (11 years old).
Nearly half (48 percent) of parents were not concerned or only somewhat concerned about their children spending too much time online, according to the survey.
Watching digital content (70 percent) was the most popular use of technology, while using it for schoolwork (67 percent) or playing offline (59 percent) or online games (59 percent) also ranked high.
Parents identified physical exercise as being negatively impacted by technology (44 percent), and almost one-third of parents (30 percent) also believed their child’s interaction with them was negatively impacted by using technology too much.
In addition, more than one-quarter (27 percent) felt that technology impacted their child’s socialization with their peers.
“I was surprised that parents were more concerned about their children sharing too much private or personal information rather than being exposed to inappropriate material,” Kevin Curran, IEEE senior member, told eWEEK. “To me, the exposure to inappropriate material is much more damaging. As parents, we owe it to our children to keep them protected from gross images, videos or content as it can erode their innocence.”
While surveyed parents enumerated many concerns, an average of 88 percent were confident that the use of technology in schools and at home (for example, laptops/computers, tablets, smart boards, and e-learning exercises) would have a positive impact on their child’s education.
More specifically, 75 percent of parents felt their children’s use of technology is positively impacting and helping them with homework, and 50 percent felt technology is having a positive impact on their success with encouraging extracurricular activities.
“As a media commentator for many years, I have been interviewed on many occasions about social media and young people. The strange thing is that I never really get asked about it nowadays as opposed to just a few years ago. Why? Well, it turns out that young people have an intrinsic filter, which for the most part is quite well developed,” Curran said. “They simply do not post as much incriminating information online as people predicted. Do they for the most part learn to improve and take their friends’ warnings? Yes, they do.”
Curran said he sees parental worries about some aspects of technology eroding, especially as they see the enormous benefits to their lives and the necessity of using technology to thrive in this busy modern connected world.