17 Oct 2013

Australian Children Own PCs as Young as 5, Study Shows

Australian parents buy PCs for children as young as 5, boosting the risk of malware infections and fraud that target users just learning to read, according to a survey by Bitdefender, designer of the world’s most effective antivirus software.

The survey showed that most Australian parents buy a PC for their kids when they are 8 to 11 years old. However, 10 percent of 5 year-olds and almost 7 per cent of Australians aged 6 own one, too. Besides Australia, the survey of 2,000 parents found similar data from parents in the US, Australia, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil, Russia and Romania.

While children are increasingly familiar with sophisticated technology at a young age, early adoption of PCs does pose risks. Australian children are among the youngest and prolific users of the internet in the world, according to a report by AU Kids Online.

“Kids are prime targets for scammers who use bait such as fake game updates and installations, 'free' game credits and compromised web apps to deliver malware,” said Bitdefender Chief Security Strategist Catalin Cosoi. “Today’s children are no doubt more tech-savvy than their parents were, but we still can’t expect them to be fully aware of the scams that cyber-criminals are crafting specifically to dupe them.”

In May this year, a Bitdefender study also conducted in Australia showed kids start watching porn online from as early as the age of 6, and flirting on the Internet from the age of 8. The study, which included more than 19,000 parents, also revealed some children lie about their age when creating social media profiles, especially on Facebook, where they must be at least 13 to sign up.

Here are some tips and tricks for Australian parents who want an active part in their children’s on- and offline life:

1. Put the family computer in a place where you can keep an eye on the monitor.

2. When children create social media accounts, help them use privacy protection features. Encourage them to limit the information exposed, and make sure they know their online friends in real life.

3. Set some rules regarding computer use with your children. Talk with them about your concerns.

4. Advise your children not to respond to spam, instant messages or e-mails with obscene or aggressive content.

5. Bitdefender recommends using parental control either as a standalone application or as software included in Bitdefender Internet Security and Bitdefender Total Security