Today's Young Kids Learn Tech Skills Before 'Life Skills,' Study Says
That's the takeaway from a new study by online security firm AVG, which found that 58-percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 5 know how to play a "basic computer game," while a full 63-percent know how to turn a computer off and on. Most young children even know how to use a mouse (69-percent), but only 52-percent can ride a bike. According to the 'Digital Diaries' survey, 20-percent of children can "swim unaided," but that's only slightly more than the 19-percent who can use a smartphone or iPad app. Yet, while many kids could probably teach their parents a thing or two about using their BlackBerry, 91-percent of them still rely on mommy and daddy to tie their shoelaces.
Some experts worry that all this tyke tech wizardry may come at the expense of so-called "life skills" -- such as writing your name, tying your shoes, or making breakfast. "There's a very legitimate concern that the next generation will be so wired and so hooked up that we will forget some of the basic life skills," Dr. Vic Strasburger told ABC News. Strasburger, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' council on communication and media, thinks "parents need to be increasingly vigilant because there are so many media and so many different avenues for accessing media."
Others, however, don't see a problem with having a four-year old capable of checking stocks on e-Trade. "The implication is that parents are ignoring basic skills in favor of letting kids play games," said Liz Gumbinner, publisher and editor-in-chief of the sites Cool Mom Tech and Cool Mom Picks. "[But] I don't think it's an either or. And, increasingly, computer skills are essential for navigating the world we live in."
Regardless of whether or not today's kids are over-wired, it's pretty clear that, as households become more digitized, parents will have to adjust. "The smartphone and the computer are increasingly taking the place of the TV as an education and entertainment tool for children," said J.R. Smith, CEO of AVG. "As our research shows, parents need to start educating kids about navigating the online world safely at an earlier age than they might otherwise have thought."
AVG's Tony Anscombe, meanwhile, recommends finding a healthy equilibrium between tech and tradition, and urges parents to exercise what he calls their "digital responsibility." Whether that means limiting computer time or holding iPad tutorials in the living room, Anscombe thinks that today's parents "need to look at making sure that we give our children a balanced life and a mix of both life skills and technical skills."