Children getting online faster, more often

Associated Press / July 8, 2009
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NEW YORK - Young children are getting online at a faster rate than their parents and older siblings, according to new research.

A Nielsen Online study found that nearly 16 million US children ages 2 to 11 were online in May. They made up about 9.5 percent of Web users.

The youngest of the set - 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds - probably aren’t yet updating their Twitter accounts or posting quiz results to Facebook. Rather, they are sitting in a parent’s lap in front of a computer, being exposed to the Web that way, said Peter Grunwald, president of Grunwald Associates LLC, which specializes in researching children and technology.

In the past five years, Nielsen said, the number of children online has grown by 18 percent, compared with just a 10 percent growth among all Web users. And this growth comes as the total number of US children under 14 is declining.

In all, the time children spend online grew 63 percent in the past five years, from nearly seven hours in May 2004 to more than 11 hours online this past May.

Nielsen also found that boys spent 7 percent more time online than girls, but girls viewed 9 percent more Web pages than boys did in May 2009. Grunwald said children are also beginning to produce content rather than use the Web as a passive viewer.