One of the funniest jokes in the “Internet Helpdesk” sketch by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie comes when the frustrated tech support staffer asks to speak to his client’s 9-year-old daughter, and proceeds to deliver in-depth instructions loaded with IT terminology—which the kid apparently completely understands. It’s a well-known cliché that kids are always more adept at using new technology than their parents, probably dating back to the era when all the cool cavekids were going around on wheels while all the adult cavemen were scratching their heads in confusion over just how those darned round things worked.
But clichés tend to have elements of truth, and CNET reports that antivirus company AVG has done a survey that shows the average 11-year-old kid has “adult skills when it comes to technology”—they are as adept as (or more adept than) the average adult at everyday technological tasks such as surfing the web or solving computer problems. But only 7% of adults believe their children know more about the Internet than they do.
AVG’s findings help shed more light on how kids are brought up in developed countries today. Earlier this year, the company released a study that found kids are more likely to have tech skills than basic life skills. In fact, 58 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 can play a "basic computer game," but only 52 percent can ride a bike. And although 63 percent of kids can operate a computer, only 20 percent can "swim unaided" and 11 percent can tie their shoelaces.
AVG suggests that the gap between kids’ technical knowledge and their parents’ appreciation of it can lead to parents not being as conscientious as they should about monitoring their children’s activities on the Internet. 41% of parents let their kids keep their computers in their bedrooms, meaning that they can be on the Internet without parental supervision.
But I think there’s a bright side, too. When it comes time for all those tech-savvy kids to do their reading, why wouldn’t they choose e-books?