Facebook may have a joining limit of age 13 or over, but kids as young as 6 are learning to using social networking and other media platforms meant for older children, claims a new survey.
Announcinig the media habits of kids, the third annual LMX Family study commissioned by Ipsos OTX Media CT, says playing video games, using social media, watching videos and movies meant for older kids or even adults has meant that kids are latching onto technology much younger than the past.
These media friendly habits now make up more than a quarter of a 6-12 year old’s waking life, says the study, which polled more than 2000 children aged 6-12 and 715 parents of pre-schoolers.
It showed a big growth in the number of devices like laptops, handheld gaming devices and smartphones owned by children, with ownership of such devices beginning even before age 5.
According to the parents polled, five year olds are already playing mobile phone games, console video games, watching online videos and listening to music on digital devices, with video games becoming a favourite pastime for three year olds.
“What we are really seeing is kids being exposed to a wider variety of multi-function devices at a younger age,” Donna Sabino, senior vice president of Ipsos OTX MediaCT told Marketing Daily. “And we are seeing an overall societal change in which parents are the final arbiter of what is appropriate for their child.”
The study suggests parents let children between 6-12 years of age visit sites such as Facebook, with 41 percent of 11 and 12 year olds already registered on the social network.
However, 79 percent these kids have been ‘friended’ by their parents who are overseeing their Facebook activity.
Children who are allowed to watch PG 13 rated movies are also accompanied by their parents, according to the survey. And the trend follows through in games too, with 51 percent of boys between 9 and 12 years of age not only playing T-rated (for teens) games, but also M-rated (adult) games, if parents participate.
“Parents are saying ‘I understand that this is the rating, but I know what’s appropriate; I know what should be in my house,'”says Sabino. “We are seeing that [fathers and pre-teen sons] are playing games like ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Halo’ — both M rated — and other huge releases with their children. Parents are saying ‘they can play if they are playing with me’.”
The trend has repercussions for marketers, according to Marketing Daily, because it shows parents overriding product warnings and being skeptical about official lines in general.