One in four surveyed mobile phone users in their early teens with Internet access were found to be interested in meeting strangers they get to know in cyberspace or they have already done so, according to an online survey released this week by the Web filtering software maker Digital Arts Inc.
The poll, conducted Feb. 17 and 18, found that 10 out of 40 of the surveyed girls aged 10 to 12 either want to meet “friends” in person they get to know on the Internet or have already done so. The figure for boys was slightly lower at 24.4 percent, or 11 out of 45 respondents.
The survey found that among kids in this age group who have a mobile phone, 37.9 percent, or 78 out of 206, own a smartphone. This is up from just 6.6 percent, or 27 out of 412, when the same survey was conducted in November 2011.
This growth means that many more children now have access to the broad range of Internet content that smartphones can provide.
“That potentially exposes these children to inappropriate content or contact with malicious individuals,” Digital Arts spokesperson Akiko Yoshida said Tuesday. “Elementary school kids are no longer safe from these risks.”
This was the fifth survey of its kind since November 2011. It was conducted nationwide on 618 kids from elementary school to high school who own mobile phones, including smartphones, as well as 624 parents who have children from preschool to high school ages.
Since the first survey, use of smartphones among minors has grown rapidly, and among increasingly younger ages, according to Digital Arts.
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