More than 25 million children in the US are on the Internet, three times the number of children who were online in 1997, and representing 40 percent of American children 2 to 17 years old, according to a report by Grunwald Associates.
The report, “Children, Families, and the Internet 2000,” found that teenagers are online the most, with 70 percent accessing the Net regularly. It also found that 14 million children go online from school, while nearly 18 million children are online from home (many children go online from both locations). In 55 percent of the households surveyed, at least one parent uses the Internet from locations such as work and home.
By 2005, the report predicts, almost 44 million children ages 2 to 17 will be using the Internet. Children’s access from school is expected to surpass home access by 2003 as classroom wiring initiatives kick in. The research also found that family decisions to purchase Internet access (and computers) are centered on children’s education and learning. Children also cited education as the leading activity while on the Net.
“Children are pouring onto the Net,” said Peter Grunwald, President of Grunwald Associates. “One of the main reasons is parents believe the Internet is an important tool for their children’s learning and development. It’s no coincidence that this explosion in children online has happened at the same time as millions of mothers have arrived on the Net, since they tend to be focused on their kids education. In fact, it looks like mothers are now on the Net about equally with fathers.”
Other findings of the Grunwald survey include:
- Almost two-thirds of all family households have home computers and 46 percent of them are connected to the Internet
- The gender gap has disappeared with children. For the first time, girls are on the Net in proportions equal to or greater than boys
- Parents restrict children’s Internet use in 60 percent of households with children’s Net access; while 74 percent of parents restrict children’s television viewing
- Older children find out about Web sites from their friends and other informal sources
- Many kids multitask while using the Net (for example, 86 percent of online teenage girls listen to the radio)
The survey was based on telephone interviews with a representative national sample of 1,735 randomly selected families, including online users and non-users.
As the youngest Internet users grow up, they will join a generation of Internet users that is increasingly using the Internet. According to a survey by the Round Table Group, the Internet is quickly displacing older media such as television and newspapers as the prime source of important information for America’s young adults. A nationwide telephone poll of 1,014 households commissioned by the group and conducted by Opinion Research Corp. International, found that 67 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 live in households that use the Internet to gather key information, compared to a nationwide average of just 46 percent who use the Internet for that purpose.
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