Revealed: Secret life of six-year old online

To mark Safer Internet Day, Internet Matters reveals just how digitally advanced youngsters are today

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Boy using computer under blanket at night

They are using social media, streaming content, browsing the internet unsupervised in their bedrooms - and even uploading their own videos.
While this sounds like it could be the everyday habits of a teenager, new research shows it is in fact the digital life of many six-year-olds across Britain.


Remarkable survey results


Nearly half of six-year olds are browsing the internet, three quarters (75%) play games individually on a tablet or a smartphone. Furthermore 44% of kids of that age are using the internet in their bedrooms and 41% at home without supervision.

Internet Matters has released the study to mark Safer Internet Day on February 7 and to urge parents to make it a priority at the earliest age to take action to keep their children safe online.

Such is the pace of change in technology, the survey of 1,500 parents* shows how six-year olds are now as digitally-advanced today as 10-year-olds were three years ago.

Nearly half (48%) of six-year-olds have used the internet for general browsing – which is more than the number of 10-year-olds three years ago (46%), and 32% of children aged six used instant messaging, compared to 31% of 10-year-olds in 2013.


Supervision declining


Worryingly, the number of parents saying they are always present to supervise their child aged six when they are online, using computer devices, has gone down in the last three years from 53% to 43%.

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: "While the statistics around six-year-olds and their internet habits might be surprising to some, it shows the rapid pace of change in technology and how vital it is for parents to both set up devices safely and understand some of the risks involved when a child goes online.

"While we want to encourage children to explore and enjoy technology, we also want to make sure parents are on top of exactly what they need to be doing to ensure they are doing it safely. Regularly talking to young children about what they should to do in certain situations is vital.

"Issues that a six-year-old may encounter can range from stranger danger to viewing inappropriate content such as violence or pornography, so it's vital you have parental controls in place and to ensure the websites and apps they are using are suitable for their age group."


Safer Internet Day


TalkTalk are proud to support this year's Safer Internet Day which is focused on promoting the positive role the internet can play in young people's lives, under the banner 'Be the change: Unite for a better internet'.

For more information on how to keep your children safe online and step-by-step guidance go to http://www.internetmatters.org/. For more information on how to get involved with Safer Internet Day go to www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2017.

*Research of 1,500 parents of children using the internet between age 6 and 16m in 2013 and September 2016, carried out by Opinion Leader.