Real talk: Did your 5-year-old just tease you about having too many open tabs?

An illustration shows various internet icons surrounding an internet browser window that reads, "Firefox and YouGov parenting survey."
Credit: Nick Velazquez / Mozilla

No one ever wanted to say “tech-savvy toddler” but here we are. It’s not like you just walked into the kitchen one morning and your kid was sucking on a binky and editing Wikipedia, right? Wait, really? It was pretty close to that? Well, for years there’s been an ongoing conversation on internet usage in families’ lives, and in 2020, the pandemic made us come face-to-face with that elephant in the room, the internet. There was no way around it. We went online for everything from virtual classrooms for kids, playing video games with friends, conducting video meetings with co-workers, and of course, streaming movies and TV shows. The internet’s role in our lives became a more permanent fixture in our family. It’s about time we gave it a rethink.

We conducted a survey with YouGov to get an understanding of how families use the internet in the United States, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. In November, we shared a preview with top insights from the report which included:

  • Many parents believe their kids have no idea how to protect themselves online. About one in three parents in France and Germany don’t think their child “has any idea on how to protect themselves or their information online.” In the U.S., Canada and the U.K., about a quarter of parents feel the same way.
  • U.S. parents spend the most time online compared to parents in other countries, and so do their children. Survey takers in the U.S. reported an average of seven hours of daily internet use via web browsers, mobile apps and other means. Asked how many hours their children spend online on a typical day, U.S. parents said an average of four hours. That’s compared to two hours of internet use among children in France, where parents reported spending about five hours online everyday. No matter where a child grows up, they spend more time online a day as they get older. 
  • Yes, toddlers use the web. Parents in North America and Western Europe reported introducing their kids to the internet some time between two and eight years old.  North America and the U.K. skew younger, with kids first getting introduced online between two and five for about a third of households.  Kids are introduced to the internet in France and Germany when they are older, between eight to 14 years old.

Today, we’re sharing more of the report, as well as our insights of what the numbers are telling us. Below is a link to the report:

An illustration reads: The Tech Talk

Toddlers, tablets, and the ‘Tech Talk’

Download our report

The internet is a great place for families. It gives us new opportunities to discover the world, connect with others and just generally make our lives easier and more colorful. But it also comes with new challenges and complications for the people raising the next generations. Mozilla wants to help families make the best online decisions, whatever that looks like, with our latest series, The Tech Talk.

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