The new generation of kids and the Internet

By on December 27, 2010

Photo © Elena Derevtsova


Gone are the days when the Internet was only for a privileged few.  Almost all homes now are equipped with at least one computer according to statistics.   Since the birth of the Internet, children and young adults have been actively using it to conduct daily school homework,  aside from other entertainment-related activities.  Older adults tend to use the Internet to read the news, sports, weather, or research products and services but children and young adults are more likely to use the Internet to complete school assignments or play games.  It is very rare for someone to exist in today’s world without having ever used e-mail or surfed the Internet. Times have definitely changed. The Internet has become integrated into children’s daily routines that includes school, entertainment, and communication.  As children get older, they become far more reliant on the Internet to engage in such activities.  As a result, teenagers and young adults in school are now among the highest Internet users.


The results of the research done by Child Research Net showed that nearly 90 percent of Japanese children spend an average of less than three hours on the internet daily.  The largest group is made up of children who use internet less than an hour a day on average while the second largest group are thos who spend an average of more than one hour and less than three hours, representing 34.2 percent of the Japanese childhood population surveyed.

In contrast, the result showed that American children who responded that they spend an average of less than one hour per day on the Internet is only 11.3 percent. American children were found to be spending an average of more than one hour and less than three hours a day equivalent to 41.2 percent of the total people surveyed.  Furthermore, 23.7 percent spend an average of more than three hours and less than five hours, about 10 percent spend an average of more than five hours and less than seven hours, and about 11.6 percent spend an average of more than seven hours. Obviously, there are more American children who spend longer hours on the Internet than Japanese children.


What are today’s Japanese and American children doing on the Internet?

Hiroko Kano, Associate Professor of the Network and Computing Service Center at the Yamagata University presented in her article, Information Literacy, the striking difference between children in Japan and the US in regards to online shopping, visiting chat rooms, blogging,  research for homework, and playing online video games.  While 80 per cent of American children said they download music,  less than 50 percent of Japanese children responded “yes” to this question. Similarly, almost 80 percent of American children use instant messengers, and 70 percent use the social networking services (SNS), but for Japanese children, only 20 percent use IM and 10 percent use SNS.

The sharp contrast in the result stems from the fact that SNS services like MySpace are very popular in America but not in Japan. Japanese children need to be at least 18 years old to be able to sign up for a Mixi account, a popular social networking site just like Facebook.  Moreover, SNS services are not being promoted in Japan.


Are our kids safe?

Furthermore, the survey results indicate that Japanese children do not use the Internet as long as American children and they do not use the services like IMs, SNS and downloading music as frequently as American children.  However, children are exposed to various risks when they go online which is of another concern to parents. The graph below shows the results of the survey, through the use of a questionnaire, on parents and children. The following questions were posed to parents and children respectively: “Has your child ever had the following experience on the Internet within the past one year?” and “Have you ever had the following experience on the Internet?” Children were asked whether they had any experience of being bullied via e-mails, chattrooms, instant messaging, etc. and parents were asked whether their child had such an experience. Result shows that a higher rate of children both in Japan and US responded “yes” compared to their parents. Apparently, there are parents who do not know that their child has been the subject of cyber-bullying. Also, it shows that 17.4 percent of American children were cyber-bullied while only 3.3 percent of Japanese children were, therefore, it can be said that the cyber-bullying is still a minor trend in Japan.  


The results of a survey among Japanese and American parents and children comparing the number of children who received invitations made over the Internet to meet someone they did not know, and to what degree the parents were aware of it indicate that only 18.8 percent of American children responded “yes”, compared to 22.3 percent of Japanese children. On the other hand, only 4.6 percent of Japanese parents knew that their child had received such invitation, while 6.1 percent of American parents knew about it. This proved that more Japanese children had been contacted online by complete strangers than American children, and American parents were more aware of such events in comparison to their Japanese counterparts.


Helpful tools and resources to protect your kids online.

Despite the advantages of how the Internet has worked wonders for our lives, it also opened doors to predators risky to our children. Here are helpful online tools recommended to help parents monitor their children’s cyber experience and protect them from unfortunate incidents. – Offers safety advice to parents on ensuring kids’ safety on the web.

Net Nanny – Does comprehensive filtering and blocks unwanted pop-ups. 

IamBigBrother – An Internet monitoring software that records e-mails, chats, website visits and  screen images.  

Spector Pro – Records everything from keystrokes, mails, chats, and sites visited.  Works with Windows only.

KidZui can control access to web pages, the use of e-mail, access to chat rooms, the movement of files in and out of your computer (FTP), access to newsgroups (Usenet), access to instant messaging, access to Peer to Peer networks.

A+ Internet Filtering for Families – Internet filtering for both PCs and Macs that blocks pornography, nudity, illegal sites, etc. Customizable and easy to set up and use. Also includes an Accountability and Reporting feature that e-mails parents or accountability partners if someone on computer attempts to go to harmful sites.

Version 98i Stopitnow Software Development secures your modem Internet connection by stopping web dialers etc. with software that prevents modem hijacking, internet dumping and dialer fraud. Prevents unwanted and expensive call charges, also has time-out limit options for parents that want to control a child’s Internet use.


Above is only general suggestion. Parents are advised to examine products carefully.

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