Mastering computers easier than riding a bike for kids, survey finds

Children five years old and younger are acquiring at least some computer skills at rates higher than they pick up more traditional childhood activities like swimming and bike riding, a survey says.

According to a survey of 2,200 mothers in 10 countries, 69% of children ages two to five can operate a computer mouse, 58% can play some form of computer game and 28% can make a mobile phone call.

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The survey by security firm AVG says 25% can open a Web browser and 19% can use a Web app of some sort.

Among the same kids, 77% complete jigsaw puzzles, 52% ride bikes, 20% swim and 11% tie their shoes, AVG says.

AVG's CEO J.R. Smith says the results indicate parents should pay attention to their children's use of computers and the Internet with an eye toward making sure the kids are protected from harm. “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,” he says.

Tech skill rates varied with the complexity of the task. For instance, 63% could turn a computer on and off, but only 16% could navigate between Web sites.

37% of the children could write their own names while 15% knew at least one Web address and 5% knew at least one e-mail address.

The survey queried mothers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and found that results varied by country.

For example, 30% of the kids in the U.S. and Australia could operate at least one smartphone or tablet application. That percentage for kids in Japan was 11%. In France and the U.K., 70% of the children could play a computer game, while only 40% could in Germany.

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