The new reality

I read an article recently about a study that says 80% of children under the age of five use the Internet weekly. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, that’s crazy, right? Toddlers aren’t on the computer. They’re learning how to walk and talk. Using their imagination and fighting over toys. Playing outside and taking naps inside. I should know – I have a 5 year-old son and 3 year-old daughter.


Then it hits me. I have a 5 year-old son and 3 year-old daughter who both know how to stream movies through Netflix, can search YouTube videos on dad’s iPhone, and play games online. Not to mention their app usage on the iPad. Which I still think is crazy! But it seems it’s the new reality. Of course Internet usage isn’t their only activity. They do all the playing and running and jumping and bickering of your average child, but they are also very tech savvy without even knowing what tech savvy means. With them, technology is not a thing you have to learn, it’s just what is. And it’s easy. Back when he was one, we put some videos on YouTube of my son easily interfacing with the first generation iPhone. And while we posted them so our family could see, the videos now have more than a half-million views and were recently picked up by Yahoo for a “Tech for Tots” segment. You can see my cutie at the 1:02 mark. And although a part of me gets a little freaked about that many people checking out my son, my pride demands I tell you all about it! I admit there’s a duality of thought going on.

And so, OK, I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked at the statistic – 80% of young kids online. Mine are certainly in that percentage. As are the children of the majority of my co-workers. An informal poll produced 87% of our kids being online prior to year five.

But there’s still a piece of me that wants to resist this reality. I’m not sure why. What about you? Are your kids participating online? Do you encourage it or reluctantly agree? How do you feel about marketers possibly using this data to sell stuff to your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Originally published March 31, 2011, on

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