Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Kids online a challenge for parents

Nearly half of Kiwis surveyed think their children spend too much time on devices.

Kiwi parents believe their children spend too much time online and more are using digital technology as a babysitter, a survey says.

The report from online security company AVG Technologies also found 31 per cent of Kiwi parents said their child threw a tantrum when a device was taken off them.

The survey polled almost 5500 parents and more than 2500 children aged 5-10 years old from nine countries, including New Zealand. Nearly half of Kiwi parents thought their child spent too much time on a digital device - such as a cellphone, tablet or computer - and not enough time outside.

John Cowan, a presenter for Auckland-based group The Parenting Place, said the fact that children were growing up surrounded by technology meant parents had to adapt. That included talking to children about issues such as sex and pornography at an earlier age. The AVG survey found 51 per cent of all parents had had to talk to their children about such topics because they had been exposed to them on the internet.

"I think it's rather sad that kids are exposed to things like pornography at such an early age," Mr Cowan said.

"I think it's important that parents get in there early and lay a foundation of giving their kids ideas of sexual safety and get their values in ahead of what they'll be exposed to."

The report also asked people about their monitoring habits and found that 40 per cent of NZ parents used browser histories to snoop on their partner's online activity - more than the 30 per cent who monitored their child's online activities.

Relationship Aotearoa principal advisor Cary Hayward acknowledged that may show that people were more trusting of children than adults, but more likely that they were insecure.

"I think if people are checking on their partner's browser history, it's because they're feeling, in some ways, insecure about their relationship."

Cyber worries
47% of NZ parents think their child spends too much time on devices
40% of NZ parents use browser history to snoop on their partner, more than the 30% who monitor their children's behaviour online
48% of NZ parents ranked internet safety as the least important concern when compared to other concerns (health, education, road safety, stranger danger) for their child.
9% of NZ parents ranked internet safety as the most important concern.
16% of NZ parents use devices as a "digital babysitter".
31% of NZ parents say their child throws a tantrum when a device is taken away from them.
Source: AVG Technologies

- NZ Herald

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