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Industry Standard

Most older kids surf unsupervised


April 30, 1999
Web posted at: 9:58 a.m. EDT (1358 GMT)

by Michiyo Yamada

(IDG) -- A new study released Tuesday by Greenfield Online shows that nearly 75 percent of American parents in online households allow their children to surf the Web at home. Among these, by the age of 12 most children are free to log on with little or no parental supervision, according to the study, which polled 1,350 online households in February.

More than 50 percent of parents of children between 11 and 15 years old say they allow their kids to go online whenever they feel like it. The number increases to 75 percent for teenagers older than 16.

While 85 percent of parents with children under 11 say they oversee their kids' every click, only 5 percent of parents of children age 16 and older say they do any monitoring of their kids' online activities. The study also found that 20 percent of parents are using the available Internet-filtering software and parental-control services.

Idit Harel, CEO of MaMaMedia, a popular children's Web site with 250,000 registered members, says many parents today are ill-equipped to communicate with their children about the Internet, because they did not grow up with it. But they need to educate themselves in order to provide the necessary guidance, she says.

"Parents have signed a form to allow their kids to go to a field trip and they have made sure to choose the right, safe toy for their children," says Harel. "They have to do the same thing with the Internet. They have to develop expertise in technology. "

The Internet's popularity among children is growing rapidly. MaMaMedia recently polled 9,000 children about what they would most want to bring on a month-long trip to a desert island. "A friend" topped the list with 38 percent. But second-highest on the wish list was "a computer with Internet access," followed closely by "a pet," with nearly 25 percent each. The remaining 12 percent of the votes were split between "lots of books" (7 percent) and "a television" (5 percent).

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What kids can learn from violent games
Center for Media Education
Greenfield Online

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