Thursday, February 24, 2005

Internet users age 2-5 = money?

According to the “Connected to the Future” article, preschool children had the largest increase in internet use (between the years of 2000 and 2002) of any age or demographic group. Hmmm. As of 2002 (as reported by their parents), 35% of children ages 2-5 used the internet. I’m not sure how to use statistics correctly--there is surely something wrong with comparing percentages across studies—but, regardless, I need to compare this with % of internet users in the article “The Ever-Shifting Internet Population”. It seems that a higher percent of 2-5 year olds are internet users than adults of any ethnicity with less then a high school level education or who are making less than $20,000/year. What does this mean?
Also, 2-5 year olds had NO evidence of a “digital divide” with regards to ethnicity (maybe one in favor of Hispanic families—but that is a topic for class), but these children do have one with regards to income of family. Since this week’s readings were related to commercial studies and groups I was reminded of how much money makes a difference in most everything is the United States.
Could it be that there is more money going into providing good web-sites/ software for three-year old consumers because they may have wealthy parents than towards adults with low education or low income levels? Probably yes. Might this be creating a cyclical effect of who uses the internet? (I think I could argue the same self-perpetuating cycle for things like advertising to a certain user group because they use the site, and reading levels also)


  1. I think that this increase in use by children 2-5 years old is a mixture of different reasons all coming together at one time. There has been an increase of computer and Internet use in general. Parents with school age children are more likely to have a computer than others is also important. There is also this societal drive to shape children early and to make every opportunity for advancement available. These parents have planned ahead. And I think your observation about good websites/software for children is really important. I think marketers have found a whole new demographic they never thought to tap into before. Suddenly they can use this competition that parents with young children have, to sell more.

  2. In high school, one of my best friends little brothers (who was 4 at the time) spent just as much time online as my friend did. Rather than getting into fights about what to watch on the tv, they would fight about the amount of time they were each staying on the computer. We would use it to talk through AIM or check out fashion trends, but he would use it to play different games. Immediately, I thought, wow rather than using a playstation, he can play shooting and fighting games online. I was surprised to see that a lot of the games that he played had underlying educational content. He would play different math games or scientific experiments. At the time, I thought that he was just a rare case and that most kids wouldn't be able to work a computer properly let alone use the internet. His dad was even more excited about the fact that his son was interested in computers and bought him different programs for his birthday. It's not that the child can buy the stuff for themselves, I think that parents are more than willing to buy computer programs that their kids would be interested in, if there's some sort of knowledge behind the game. That's what i believe is the driving force behind the advances in kids using the internet or computer. Their parents are willing to buy them "games" and their older siblings that they look up to are using the computer all the time as well.