Survey Shows Nearly Half of All Parents Will Give the Gift of Tech this Holiday Season

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After presents are unwrapped, how do parents help kids with online safety?

ARLINGTON, VA, Nov. 17, 2010 – In an online national survey of parents with children ages 12 and younger, 49 percent reported plans to give their kids electronic gifts such as cell phones, computers, tablets and iTouch devices, for Christmas or Hanukah this year. Once these gifts are unwrapped, most parents say they plan to have rules and restrictions to help children stay safe online. The majority of parents – 86 percent – agree that teaching kids about internet safety starts at home. Seventy-three percent will put restrictions on the sites their kids can visit, while 68 percent will limit the time their kids are allowed to use their new tech toys.

More than just entertainment, tech platforms present great educational opportunities IF content is developmentally appropriate and based on research about how children learn best.  In fact, a Rockman et al study of mobile apps for kids found improved vocabulary as much as 31 percent in children ages three to seven who played with the PBS KIDS MARTHA SPEAKS mobile app.

“With tech gifts, children will be unwrapping new adventures with great learning potential,” said Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president, Children’s Media, PBS. “It’s important for parents to have the right resources to help their kids explore new technology safely and responsibly.  We call it being a good digital citizen.”

Still, there doesn’t seem to be one definitive resource to help parents with teaching their kids about online safety. When asked about their most common source for information about internet safety, the most popular answer was, in fact, the internet itself (40 percent).

To help parents guide the discussion of online safety, PBS KIDS GO! recently launched its Digital Citizenship Initiative that features a suite of new resources. Among them, a new interactive, online game called Webonauts Internet Academy is designed to teach kids how to be safe and respectful online.  The Webonauts Internet Academy is available free on PBSKIDSGO.org/webonauts.  Parents can also find helpful supporting information on PBSPARENTS.org, including tips for kids’ internet use from Common Sense Media.

In the Webonauts Internet Academy, children play through a series of 12 missions adhering to the Webonauts’ motto:  “Observe, Respect, Contribute.”  Each mission helps children understand critical online safety and responsibility issues, such as the importance of protecting passwords and how to react to bullying.  When all missions are completed, children become full-fledged Webonauts and earn their Webonauts Internet Academy Certificate, which they can proudly display in their virtual room online or print out to post at home.

PBS KIDS GO! is hosting a special offline version of the Webonauts Internet Academy for parents and kids in New York City today at the Intrepid Air, Space and Science Museum. The hands-on event will give parents and kids the chance to experience the lessons of the Academy together while speaking directly with experts from PBS KIDS.


PBS KIDS GO! offers early elementary children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online and community-based programs.  PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation’s nearly 360 public television stations, serving more than 124 million people on-air and online each month.


Caitlin Melnick, 360 Public Relations, 617.585.5775/cmelnick@360publicrelations.com
Maria Vera, PBS, 703.739.3225 / mvera@pbs.org