German Kids Reaching ‘Digital Maturity’ at Just 12

By David Knight |

For those of us who had a mostly internet-free childhood – especially the early part – this new stat is astounding: Kids in Germany are reaching ‘digital maturity’ by the age of 12, according to new figures.

The study, carried out by internet security giant AVG, involved 4,000 parents across the world with children aged 10 to 13, and found that the average age they are ‘graduating’ to mainstream adult social networks in major industrialised nations is 11 – although that rises to 12 in Germany.

That means pre-teens accessing sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The study was part of the fourth Digital Diaries report, and found that in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and France, a majority of parents with 11-year-olds say their kids are accessing mainstream social networks. In Germany a majority access them at 12, while in Italy and Spain, this so-called ‘digital maturity’ starts as young as 10. Only Japan bucks the trend with few kids being present on these sites.

It seems amazing – although in honesty not all that surprising – that the internet is becoming such an important presence in the lives of today’s children. It’s hard to imagine being so digitally integrated at the age of just 12. Some may question the wisdom of such a state of affairs, but ensuring each new generation is increasingly familiar with all things tech will be important for future innovation and business.

And what is also interesting is that few parents believe their children are better informed about the internet than they are. When asked ‘who knows the most about the internet in your household,’ 72 percent of parents said they were the most knowledgeable.  Dads in particular were more likely to think of themselves as online experts – in Germany, 94 percent said they feel they know the most about the internet in their house.

AVG CEO JR Smith said: “It’s important that parents understand the role technology plays in their children’s lives. It can help their kids be as smart and safe as possible with technology, while giving parents complete peace of mind.”