A survey has found that one out of three Australian children enjoy the friendship of an online friend that they have never met in person.
The New Generations Survey of 976 kids aged 7-14 also found that one in five shared all their information with the public on social networking sites.
AdvertisementThe survey, conducted for the Cartoon Network, also found 22 per cent of kids aged 7-12 used websites such as Facebook, despite most sites requiring users to be at least 13.
Cartoon Network research manager Peter Hammer said parents were generally keeping up with their children's Internet usage.
"Parents have to evolve as much as kids do to adapt to the technological environment that is today," News.com.au quoted Hammer as saying.
"Some kids are using their parent's social networking sites, or in conjunction with their parents," he said.
As many as 19 per cent admitted to visiting a website they knew they should not have.
"I act older to be able to use sites and pretend I have a six-pack," a 12-year-old boy told the surveyors.
While an 11-year-old girl said: "I say things mum doesn't like."
Hammer said with about one in five kids having an Internet connection in their bedroom, vigilance was becoming an increasingly important issue for parents.
"If there is a message that is to go out to parents, it's to make sure that their kids are using the right sites," he said.
"It's of huge concern to learn that not only are kids sharing personal information, but 36 per cent are acting differently when online," he stated.
Hammer said the current generation of children did not know a world without the Internet.
"We talk about the Internet being new media, but for a lot of kids aged 7-14, it's the only media they've ever known," he said.
"It's not necessarily so new and scary for them," he added.