Belgian Children Active on Net

Belgium has 475,000 surfers between the ages of six and 24 that go online at least twice a week, according to research conducted by InSites.

The research found that boys in Belgium use the Internet twice as often as girls (more than two more hours per connection) as girls of the same age. The youngest group of children surveyed (ages 6-12) are mainly interested in games, hobbies, and school-related information. Downloading music is done by as many as 43 percent of young boys.

Among the teenagers in the survey, no less than 70 percent of surfers regularly copy music from the Internet, and one out of three respondents in the 18-24 age group say they download music regularly. Downloading software and games is more often done by boys than girls, the study found. Girls tend to look for information they can use in schoolwork, aimlessly surf the Net, or send electronic postcards.

Nearly 20 percent of the 6-12 age group chat online at least once a week; 12 percent of teenagers chat online as often as daily, according to InSites. Nineteen percent of the under-12s send an email each day, as do 39 percent of online teenagers and 84 percent of 18-24 year olds. Nearly one-third of the 18-24 age group use some type of instant messaging program every day.

The online activity of Belgium’s young people appears to be coming at the expense of traditional reading, InSites found. Once they are active Internet users, 49 percent of teenagers in Belgium read fewer magazines and newspapers, and 43 percent read books less often. Forty-three percent of the 12-18 year olds said they have watched less TV since they started surfing the Net, and nearly half of 18-24 year olds have the same tendency. Of the 18-24 year olds, 43 percent said they spend less time on schoolwork as a result of their Internet connections.

From the age 15, 20 percent of Belgian young people say they have made an online purchase at some point. In addition, 41 percent bough something offline after studying it on the Internet. Thirty-four percent of parents bought something online for their teenage children. More than half of the 18-24 age group have already made an online purchase. CDs, books, and software are the most popular online purchases.

Belgian parents say they keep track of what sites their children are visiting when on the Internet. This is done mainly by going online together with their children rather than by the use of some type of software control. Only 10 percent of the parents of 6-18 year olds use software controls. The underlying reason for this is a limited knowledge of the access-control software, with only 37 percent of parents of Internet-using kids aware of the existence of software controls.

The InSites survey was conducted among 1,000 young people who were canvassed by phone, with a further sample of 1,100 question over the Internet.

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