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Kids have 'adult' tech skills; parents don't know it

The average 11-year-old child has adult-like technology skills, but the vast majority of parents still think they know more than their kids when it comes to that subject, according to a survey by security firm AVG.

Security firm AVG is filling parents in on a little-known secret: their kids know as much about technology as they do.

According to AVG, the average 11-year-old child has "adult skills when it comes to technology." In other words, they can perform any task that an adult can when it comes to surfing the Web, getting a gadget to work, or solving complex computer issues.

"Technologically speaking, today's kids can walk the walk," AVG Chief Executive J.R. Smith said in a statement.

The issue is that their parents don't necessarily realize that. In fact, the security firm found in its survey of parents, as part of its Digital Diaries series of studies, that just 7 percent believe their children know more about the Internet than they do. On behalf of the security firm, Research Now surveyed 4,000 parents in 10 countries during the first two weeks of September.

AVG's findings help shed more light on how kids are brought up in developed countries today. Earlier this year, the company released a study that found kids are more likely to have tech skills than basic life skills. In fact, 58 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 can play a "basic computer game," but only 52 percent can ride a bike. And although 63 percent of kids can operate a computer, only 20 percent can "swim unaided" and 11 percent can tie their shoelaces.

All that technology knowledge can prove troublesome as kids get older and start venturing onto the Web. For years now, advocacy groups, parent organizations, and security experts have been warning parents to monitor children when they use the Internet and limit their exposure to potentially dangerous sites. But whether parents have taken that advice is up for debate.

According to AVG, 72 percent of parents admit to looking through their children's computers to see what they're doing on the Web. However, 41 percent of parents let their kids keep their computers in their bedrooms, "indicating there is often no consistent, real-time parental supervision in place," AVG said.

What's more, 62 percent of parents allow their 10- to 13-year-olds to access social networks. And although Facebook's minimum age requirement is 13, 47 percent of parents of 10-year-olds say that they let their kids use the social network. That figure jumps to 53 percent among parents with 11-year-olds. But as far as AVG is concerned, allowing that activity can be a risk.

"Adults often take for granted the decades of training we call upon every time we engage with other people," Smith said. "And not even we can navigate social situations with perfect ease."

One other tidbit from the AVG study: 43 percent of kids between the ages of 10 and 13 spend over two hours each day text messaging.