February 5, 2014 4:16 pm

Kids learning digital skills before life skills: Study

Michael Hitoshi/Getty Images

TORONTO – While children tend to be more computer-savvy than their parents, there’s a down side – they are learning digital skills like using a smartphone before life skills such as writing their name, according to a new study.

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Global News

The study conducted by AVG – a U.S.-based security software company – surveyed over 6,000 parents from Canada, the U.K., U.S., Australia, and regions of Europe to see how their children interact with technology.

What they found is that most kids are becoming digital experts at as young as two.

The study found that 47 per cent of kids age two to five can use a smartphone, compared to only 38 per cent who can write their full name.

The findings also revealed that more two- to five-year-olds can play a basic computer game than can ride a bike.

Sixty-five per cent of kids spend more than two hours per week online – kids in the U.S. are the worst offenders though, with 12 percent spending more than ten hours online per week.

READ MORE: Reality check: Can children become addicted to technology?

Toronto-based psychologist Dr. Oren Amitay cautions that parents should be concerned about what long-term effects prolonged exposure to technology may have on the brain.

“At a young age, the brain is the most malleable – or changeable – and physiologically the brain is changing with exposure to technology. I would be concerned,” Amitay said in a previous interview with Global News.

However, he notes that because the technology hasn’t been around long enough for us to study the effect it may have on a developing brain, the risks remain unknown.

The AVG study noted that 89 per cent of six- to nine-year-olds participate in online communities like Webkinz, or Disney’s Club Penguin.

Parents creating a digital footprint for kids at early age

But the study also revealed that parents may to be blame for creating a digital footprint for their children early in life.

According to the findings, 80 per cent of parents with children aged zero to five have posted pictures of their kids to the Internet and 25 per cent of parents admitted to doing this to “show off” their kids.

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