A study done by the NOP Research Group has found that one in three children in the UK ages 6-16 have used the Internet. NOP says that means almost 2.4 million children in the UK have used the Internet, and the company expects an additional 1.8 million children in the UK to become Internet users in the next year.
The Kids.net study showed that children are generally Internet enthusiasts, NOP said. Children find the Net easy to use, and like to use it for fun, games, and chat. Two-thirds of the children think that it helps them with their learning, and one-third would like to use it for lessons if they were home sick from school.
Almost 500,000 children who have used the Internet in the UK report having been “upset” or “embarrassed” by something they found on the Internet, according to NOP. Of those, 40 percent claim they found something “rude” and one-in-seven saw something that frightened them.
This presents a dilemma for parents and those responsible for Internet content, said one analyst.
“The need to police young people’s usage of the Internet more effectively and to restrict access to pornographic and other unsuitable material should be carefully considered by parents, teachers, and those developing online content for kids,” said Rob Lawson of NOP. “At the same time kids enjoy, and are attracted to, the unregulated nature of the Internet and this must be accounted for in any successful solution.”
Not surprisingly, the survey found marked differences in Internet usage between the boys and girls. Boys prefer sports and game sites, while girls gravitate toward music and TV. Both sexes like to use the Net to chat and make friends.
The research found television is still the medium of choice for kids in the UK. They spend just over one hour a week using the Internet, but 15 hours watching TV. Two-thirds of the children surveyed download information from the Net.
Companies looking to do business with kids should look carefully at these results, said Barbie Clarke, the head of NOP family.
“These Kids.net findings offer the clearest indication to date that companies marketing their products and services to kids need to consider the Internet as a viable and important medium when planning advertising and informational campaigns,” Clarke said.
The research for the study was done from September 7-October 5, 1998. The survey included 3,805 children ages 6-16.