At age 8, children in Singapore are youngest globally to get first internet device – and online safety is a growing concern, Google study finds

The Straits Times

With technology so interwoven into our daily lives, the days when children only play five stones and capteh are slowly fading away.

Many are now immersed in a virtual world which offers endless libraries of cartoons, videos and games – and they’re starting at a really young age, it seems.

In Singapore, the average age in which children receive their first internet-connected device is eight years old, according to a global study by Google released on Monday (March 18).

This is the youngest average age among all the countries surveyed, and lower than the global average of 10 years old, Google added.

According to the study, which is based on data from 400 parents and 200 teachers, 96 per cent of respondents are getting more concerned about a child’s safety online, as well as the importance of digital literacy skills in young children.

When it comes to educating children about their safety online, both teachers and parents play a part.

However, only half of parent respondents are satisfied with the quality of online safety education schools provide, while 76 per cent of teachers feel that parents are not doing enough to keep their children safe online.

Despite most teachers indicating that online safety and digital citizenship are topics taught in school, a whopping 96 per cent of teachers surveyed feel that they are under-equipped to effectively educate their students on online safety.

The study also found that both parents and teachers want to work towards creating a safer online environment for children.

A total of 87 per cent of teachers and 73 per cent of parents want to take part in online safety workshops or training to equip themselves with the right skills and learn how to keep children safe online.

But teachers and parents have differing opinions on the key areas to focus on to ensure a child’s online safety.

Parents ranked privacy and security as the most important area of concern, followed by oversharing of information and inappropriate content. Meanwhile, teachers said that preventing cyberbullying is the most vital component, followed by privacy and security and inappropriate content.


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