Web stereotypes challenged by emergence of e-families

Kids re-connect with parents, grandparents through social networks

Social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and other technologies like IM and VoIP, are better connecting the young with the old, and strengthening family relationships, according to a new survey.

The report challenges common stereotypes including hours spent on the Internet and computers leading to anti-social behaviour in children and diving families.

The Norton Online Living Report, released today by Internet security firm Symantec, shows that worldwide seven in 10 adults believe the Internet improves their relationships.

The “kids only” sign is peeling off the door into the social networking world, and both children and adults are creating a new social phenomenon known as an “e-family,” which currently makes up 14 percent of the online population, said David Freer, vice president of Symantec’s consumer business for Asia, Pacific and Japan.

“In the report, we’ve seen some interesting trends going from year to year, and the main issue we picked up on is that children are starting to interact online more with their parents,” said Freer.

“Through social networking sites they’re ‘friending’ their parents and also talking to their grandparents a lot more.”

Australia is above the global average, with 22 percent of children now talking with their grandparents online.

The report surveyed 9,000 online adults and children (6,427 and 2,614 respectively) in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, China, Japan, India, Australia and Brazil.

Among all the countries surveyed, Australia’s online parents are most likely to know what their children are looking at online, at 86 percent, however, only 65 percent of their children agree.

“This [foray into social networking] was a good thing as more and more people are driving their interactions via the Web,” said Freer, adding that companies must prepare for the upcoming generation where Web interactions are standard forms of communication.

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Kathryn Edwards

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