Digital Diaries explores how technology is changing childhood and parenting around the world

Technology is changing children’s lives - from the way they learn and play to how they interact with friends, family and the wider world. It’s changing parenting too. From pregnancy and birth through to the teenage years, parents are sharing stories about how their daughters and sons are growing up. But they are also facing the challenge of helping their children navigate digital life with safety and privacy.

Digital Diaries is AVG’s ongoing study of the effects of technology on childhood. Our first research in 2010 looked at children’s digital life in 10 countries around the world. Back then, we found that a child’s digital identity typically started at the age of six months old.

The 2014 edition of Digital Diaries returns to the same issues and looks at how times have changed. Thousands of parents around the world were once again asked about their children’s online habits.

Key themes:

  • 0-2 years: Sharenting trumps privacy.
    Parental pride overcomes concerns about online privacy – with 30 percent of parents surveyed saying they had shared images from ultrasound scans.
  • 3-5 years: More screen smart than street smart?
    Children’s confidence in using technology is growing – with more being talented at using smartphone or tablet apps than at traditional life skills such as swimming.
  • 6-9 years: Blurring real and virtual worlds.
    The internet has become a digital playground – with almost half of parents surveyed saying their children played in online virtual worlds.

Explore details from our AVG Digital Diaries study by clicking on our timeline. Does the data match your experience? Tell us what you think on AVG Facebook page.

* Digital Diaries is based on an online survey of 6,017 parents in the UK, USA, France, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Australia, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand. The survey was set up using Research Now and fieldwork took place in November and December 2013.

Age 0-2

A child’s digital life starts long before their first word or first steps. Proud parents-to-be are quick to share good news about pregnancy – and when junior arrives, sharing photographs seems irresistible.

“Introduced to this world with a fanfare of social media activity and, by the age of a few months, pacified with a device, our children are learning about life literally through a screen,” said Tony Anscombe, AVG’s Senior Security Evangelist. “But how often are parents taking the time to consider the short and long term implications of raising a family in this connected world?”

The 2014 Digital Diaries study found:

  • 30 percent of parents said they had shared pregnancy ultrasound images of their baby (up from 23 percent in 2010);
  • 62 percent of parents said they had uploaded photos of their children by the age of two.
  • 50 percent said they had shared photographs of newborn babies.

But how far does parental pride go in creating a child’s digital identity? Does privacy limit what they will share?

  • 80 percent of parents said they only shared photographs of their children with extended family and friends;
  • 25 percent of parents said they enjoyed “showing off” their child online;
  • 8 percent said they had created an e-mail address for their baby or toddler;
  • 6 percent said they had created a social network profile for their under-2s.

Click to explore another age range – or for practical tips, read our free ebook about online safety for early years:

Age 3-5

Little fingers seem to have no difficulty swiping screens, whether to play on an app, take a picture or manipulate an image to make it bigger or smaller.

Perhaps that’s why it’s not surprising kids in the 3-to-5-year-old age group are so adept at using connected devices.

“Whether it is taking steps to manage and secure a child’s online information or educating them about navigating the online world, parents have a responsibility to ensure they give their children the very best digital start possible,” said Tony Anscombe, AVG’s Senior Security Evangelist.

The Digital Diaries study found:

  • 62 percent of children in this age group can turn a computer off and on;
  • 70 percent can operate a mouse;
  • 66 percent can play a basic online game;
  • 47 percent know how to navigate a smartphone or tablet;
  • 57 percent can operate at least one app.

But are young children falling behind in areas pre-schoolers traditionally would have mastered? The answer is yes…and no.

  • 58 percent of these children can ride a bike;
  • 23 percent know how to swim unaided;
  • 14 percent can tie their own shoes;
  • 25 percent would know what to do in an emergency;
  • 13 percent know their mother’s telephone number;
  • 38 percent are able to write both their first and last names;
  • 42 percent know their home address.

Click to explore another age range – or for practical tips on parenting and technology, read our free ebook about online safety:

Age 6-9

The internet has become a deeply ingrained feature of children’s lives by the time they turn nine. But do parents know what their children are experiencing online?

“Parents can’t afford to become complacent so while 64 percent of mothers confirmed they do use some form of parental controls, I am concerned that over a third do not,” said Tony Anscombe, AVG’s Senior Security Evangelist.

“Children of this age are not emotionally equipped to handle all of the experiences available online and parents providing them access to connected devices must take responsibility for their safety.”

The Digital Diaries study found:

  • 46 percent of children play in virtual world games such as Webkinz™ or Club Penguin™;
  • 16 percent use Facebook, despite the official age for opening an account being 13;
  • 18 percent use e-mail.

So how big are parents’ concerns about screen time and cyberbullying?

  • 66 percent of parents said time spent online takes away from children “learning other more important life skills”;
  • 46 percent said kids play “too many games”;
  • 18 percent said they believed their child had encountered online behavior they would consider aggressive or unpleasant between one and five times in the past year;
  • 70 percent said “too much screen time” could be hindering their child’s development;
  • 75 percent said technology helps children develop motor skills;
  • 67 percent said tech promotes expression and creativity;
  • 63 percent said technology improves reading.

Click to explore another age range – or read our free ebook about children and online safety:

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Digital Diaries 2014.

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