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How old were you when you first…

If you thought you started young you may be interested in the latest research showing the age a child starts using the internet unsupervised has slipped from 11 and a half to just four and a half years.

Parents whose youngest child is aged one to six years old said unsupervised internet use started at just four and a half years on average. By contrast, parents whose youngest child is 13 to 17 years old said unsupervised access was allowed from 11 and a half.

In spite of this, more than half (51%) of parents admit they are ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ worried about what their children are getting up to online. Parents are almost as concerned about the impact internet use is having on their children’s mental health (31%) as on their children’s social skills (36%). Almost a quarter (23%) also fear it’ll impact their physical health as kids prioritise internet surfing over the real thing. Around one in seven (15%) worry their offspring’s digital footprints could one day affect their career prospects with future employers.

More than one in 10 (13%) parents of teenagers aged 13-17 believe their child has ‘overshared’ on social media, while 15% say their kids have used inappropriate language on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. More than one in 10 (13%) of parents of teenagers say their child’s internet use has damaged their social skills.

Although six in 10 (60%) parents claim to have installed controls on their child’s internet-enabled gadgets, there is a lack of confidence in these controls. Almost four in 10 (38%) parents are worried these controls give them a false sense of security and a fifth (20%) of parents with younger children claim their child, aged between one to six years old, has worked out how to get around them!

Of course all this is interesting from the point of view of target markets and potential new products and/or services – particularly from a security point of view by the sounds of it! However we’d like to know how old you were when you started playing with the internet and what you think your parents would say about the impact the internet has had on your lives. What do you think about internet security and has tech stunted your emotional growth at the same time as giving you the freedom to be more creative?!

Let me know your experiences at