TORONTO - A survey of more than 5,400 Canadian kids in grades 4 through 11 found a majority had their own cellphone, while nearly one in four of the youngest children owned a mobile device.
The non-profit organization MediaSmarts worked with schools and parents in each province and territory to conduct the wide-ranging survey, which asked kids a few dozen questions about their Internet usage.
It wasn't surprising that nearly 90 per cent of the oldest students said they had their own cellphone, said MediaSmarts director of education Matthew Johnson.
But it was eye-opening for him to learn that about a quarter of nine- and 10-year-old students had their own device.
"The numbers were definitely higher than we expected at the younger end," said Johnson. "The surprise is definitely in those early three grades (four through six) and the fact that in Grade 6 we're up to almost 40 per cent.
"Certainly it highlights the fact that we're seeing earlier and more Internet access (for kids)."
Almost all of the 5,436 students polled said they had access to the Internet outside of school. Six per cent of the kids didn't have Internet access at home but went online at local libraries and community centres.
When asked what they commonly did online, 59 per cent said they played games, 52 per cent said they read social media posts and 51 per cent said they downloaded or streamed music, TV shows and movies.
SEE: Studies about kids and technology. Story continues below:
Teens and Technology" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pew Research Center Gist: "Fully 95% of teens are online, a percentage that has been consistent since 2006. Yet, the nature of teens’ internet use has transformed dramatically during that time ... Teens are just as likely to have a cell phone as they are to have a desktop or laptop computer. And increasingly these phones are affording teens always-on, mobile access to the internet — in some cases, serving as their primary point of access."
Preschoolers Can Learn Great Things From TV" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Huffington Post (to read the actual study, visit Pediatrics -- subscription required) Gist: "New research out today by Dr Christakis finds that putting our time and energy into working to improve what our children watch, not just how much they watch, can have a positive impact on their behavior -- even for children as young as 3 years of age."
Media and Violence: An Analysis of Current Research " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Common Sense Media Gist: "While longitudinal research does allow us to speak in terms of a 'causal' relationship, it is probably more accurate and useful to think about media violence as a 'risk factor' rather than a 'cause' of violence — one variable among many that increases the risk of violent behavior among some children."
Source: Reuters (to read the actual study, visit JAMA Pediatrics -- log-in required) Gist: "[R]esearchers said the new study backs up earlier findings showing too much screen time and not enough exercise may be separate issues that parents and schools need to address independently."
How Families Interact on Facebook " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Facebook Gist: "We investigated anonymized and automatically processed posts and comments by people self-identified as parents and children to understand how conversation patterns with each other might be a bit different from those with their other friends."
Parents, Teens, and Online Privacy " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pew Research Center Gist: "Most parents of teenagers are concerned about what their teenage children do online and how their behavior could be monitored by others. Some parents are taking steps to observe, discuss, and check up on their children’s digital footprints."
Public Supports Expanded Internet Safety Requirements to Protect Kids" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health Gist: "In this Poll, nearly two out of three adults expressed strong support for proposed COPPA updates, including requiring apps designed for kids to confirm that users are at least 13 and prohibiting apps from collecting personal information from users under age 13."
The Online Generation Gap" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Family Online Safety Institute Gist: "These surveys indicate that teens’ concerns about their online safety parallel parents’ concerns more closely than parents realize and that many teens are taking steps to protect their privacy and personal information. Nonetheless, teens suggest that parents are not as informed about what their teens do online as parents think they are, and some teens are taking risks by providing personal information to strangers online."
Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media: The View From The Classroom" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Common Sense Media Gist: "America’s teachers -- whether they are long-time classroom veterans or young, tech-savvy ones, at wealthy schools or low-income schools, public or private, elementary or high school -- surface relatively consistent concerns: Students are having issues with their attention span, writing, and face-to-face communication, and, in the experience of teachers, children’s media use is contributing to the problem. On the plus side, teachers find that young people’s facility with media is helping them find information quickly and multitask more effectively."
How Teens Do Research in the Digital World" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pew Research Center Gist: "Three-quarters of AP [Advanced Placement] and NWP [National Writing Project] teachers say that the internet and digital search tools have had a 'mostly positive' impact on their students’ research habits, but 87% say these technologies are creating an 'easily distracted generation with short attention spans' and 64% say today’s digital technologies 'do more to distract students than to help them academically.'"
Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Common Sense Media Gist: "Three out of four teens have social networking sites, and half of all teens are on their sites on a daily basis. But despite our concerns about social media, in the vast majority of cases, these media do not appear to be causing great tumult in teenagers’ lives."
Teens, Smartphones and Texting: Texting Volume Is Up While Frequency of Voice Calling Is Down" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pew Research Center Gist: “The volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user. The frequency of teens' phone chatter with friends - on cell phones and landlines - has fallen. But the heaviest texters are also the heaviest talkers with their friends.”
Impact of an Active Video Game on Healthy Children’s Physical Activity" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pediatrics Gist: "There was no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general, or at anytime, than children receiving the inactive video games."
Teens, Kindness And Cruelty on Social Network Sites: How American Teens Navigate the New World of “Digital Citizenship”" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pew Research Center Gist: “As social media use has become pervasive in the lives of American teens, a new study finds that 69% of the teenagers who use social networking sites say their peers are mostly kind to one another on such sites. Still, 88% of these teens say they have witnessed people being mean and cruel to another person on the sites, and 15% report that they have been the target of mean or cruel behavior on social network sites.”
Preschool-Aged Children’s Television Viewing in Child Care Settings " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pediatrics Gist: “We found that children in as many as 70% of home-based child care settings and 36% of center-based child care settings watch television daily. More importantly, when television is viewed at all, infants and children spend 2 to 3 hours watching in home-based programs and ~1.5 hours watching in center-based programs.”
Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pediatrics Gist: “This updated policy statement provides further evidence that media—both foreground and background—have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years. Thus, the AAP reafﬁrms its recommendation to discourage media use in this age group. This statement also discourages the use of background television intended for adults when a young child is in the room.”
Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Common Sense Media Gist: "Nine-month-olds spend nearly an hour a day watching television or DVDs, 5-year-olds are begging to play with their parents’ iPhones, and 7-year-olds are sitting down in front of a computer several times a week to play games, do homework, or check out how their avatars are doing in their favorite virtual worlds. Television is still as popular as ever, but reading may be beginning to trend downward. Having an accurate understanding of the role of media in children’s lives is essential for all of those concerned about promoting healthy child development: parents, educators, pediatricians, public health advocates, and policymakers, to name just a few."
Cell Phone Study ‘Misleading’: Children May Still Be At Increased Cancer Risk, Experts Say " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: The Huffington Post Gist: “[E]xperts have some serious concerns regarding the methods and conclusions of the first study evaluating the connection between cell phone radiation and brain cancer in children and teens. Not only was the study flawed, they note, but it was also financially supported by the cell phone industry.”
Children's Screen Viewing Is Related to Psychological Difficulties Irrespective of Physical Activity " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pediatrics Gist: “This study found that greater television and computer use was related to greater psychological difﬁculties, independent of gender, age, level of deprivation, pubertal status, and objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time.”
Television and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pediatrics Gist: "Viewing television and playing video games each are associated with increased subsequent attention problems in childhood. It seems that a similar association among television, video games, and attention problems exists in late adolescence and early adulthood."
Teens, Cell Phones and Texting: Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication " width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Pew Research Center Gist: “Fully two-thirds of teen texters say they are more likely to use their cell phones to text their friends than talk to them to them by cell phone.”
Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds" width="52" height="52"/>
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Gist: “Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.”
When asked about their favourite websites, YouTube was the clear winner among the more than 3,000 mentioned, chosen by 75 per cent of the students. Facebook was second, followed by Google, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Minecraft, Miniclip, Hotmail and Wikipedia.
Although Facebook's rules state that users must be at least 13 years old to use the site, a third of the underage students in grades four through six said they had an account anyway, and 16 per cent of those kids were signed up for Twitter.
Among the older kids, 82 per cent had Facebook accounts and 47 per cent were on Twitter.
Johnson said one of the most surprising findings in the survey was how boys and girls viewed Internet safety differently.
"Girls are much more likely to agree with the statement that 'the Internet is a dangerous place' for them and in general, experience the Internet and the online world as a much more hostile and worrying place than boys do," he said.
About 82 per cent of the girls and 63 per cent of the boys surveyed agreed when asked if they thought they could be hurt by online strangers, while 51 per cent of the girls and 61 per cent of the boys said they considered the Internet a safe place for them.
Meanwhile, about 90 per cent of both boys and girls agreed with the statement "I know how to protect myself online." Even the youngest kids in Grade 4 expressed confidence with that statement, with 77 per cent agreeing with it.
Johnson was also taken aback by the number of parents who had lax rules about going online compared to the results of a similar survey conducted in 2005.
"Parents were (previously) treating the Internet or viewing the Internet much more as a source of fear and concern ... and young people were feeling they were constantly being supervised, that their parents were watching over them to an excessive extent," Johnson said of the findings from the previous research.
About 84 per cent of the kids surveyed did say their parents had at least one rule regarding their online behaviour. Some were told not to post personal information online, talk to strangers, visit certain websites, download content, or disrespect others.
But while 70 per cent of the kids surveyed in 2005 had to follow rules about which sites they visited, only 48 per cent of the students polled in 2013 said they were blocked from some sites.
And while almost three quarters of the kids polled in 2005 had been told about the limits of meeting people they talked to online, only 44 per cent of the kids questioned last year said their parents had set rules for them.
"We were really surprised to see that the number of rules about use of the Internet has actually declined by quite a lot and that's something we're not really sure about the cause of," Johnson said.
When asked if they're with an adult while using the Internet, 80 per cent said either rarely or never. Among the Grade 4 kids, 30 per cent said usually, 45 per cent said rarely and 20 per cent said never.
"The fact that one in five of the youngest students in this study are saying they're never supervised by an adult ... is definitely worrying," Johnson said.
Read the full report: http://bit.ly/KGQsWR