Six-year-olds becoming 'addicted to technology'
By Cheryl Critchley
February 29, 2008 12:00am
SIX-year-olds are being urged to join internet social networking sites, sparking concerns kids are becoming addicted to technology younger than ever.
Canadian website Anne's Diary is billed as the world's first child-safe social networking site for girls aged 6-14. It uses fingerprint technology to restrict it to legitimate members.
"Inspired by the much-loved Anne of Green Gables novels, the website encourages users to explore their creativity . . . in an attractive, safe, virtual world," it says.
Other sites such as www.barbiegirls.com
also offer tweens – children aged from 8-12 – games, fashion and chat.
University of Canberra technology expert Robert Fitzgerald said some tweens already displayed technology-related symptoms such as irritability, disengagement and disappearing for hours.
Dr Fitzgerald said parents should be aware of what their children were doing.
"I think there's the possibility for addiction at that age," he said.
Australian Childhood Foundation CEO Joe Tucci said six-year-olds should play in person.
"It's about whether we're setting up children to imitate the adult world just because we think that's what adults are interested in . . . rather than whether it's good for kids," he said.
Tom Wood, 16, who used to surf the internet for up to 15 hours a day, said social networking at six was ridiculous.
Tom, who advises the Federal Government, said six-year-olds did not need to network online.
"They would have no idea what to do and it would embed an unhealthy mindset of online interaction for when they're older," he said.
"On the other hand, if there is a market, it will happen . . . so it is a brilliant opportunity to educate kids about internet safety at such a young age, which it looks like they're doing."