76 percent kids below age 13 hooked to YouTube: Assocham

Mumbai, Dec 21 (IANS) A whopping 95 percent of the teens, aged between 13 and 17 years, access the Internet while 76 percent of minors, below the age of 13, use YouTube daily, a new survey released here on Monday revealed.

One is required to be of above 18 years of age to open an account on YouTube, the video-sharing website.

Social media networking sites are used by 81 percent of the teenagers while 72 percent of them log into social media more than once daily, the survey by Assocham said.

Of these, 65 percent of the kids aged below 13 used social media sites and 76 percent of the children below 13 have a YouTube account, and 51 percent of them also have a Smartphone.

Over one-third — 35 percent — of the teenagers use laptops and 32 percent use tablets to access their favourite websites, said Assocham Secretary-General D.S. Rawat.

“The statistics are sad and worrying. YouTube requires account holders to be 18, but even a five-year-old can easily sign up with parents’ permission. Despite these clearly stated and published age restrictions, large and growing numbers of children between the age of 7 to 13 are using social media networks and access YouTube assistance without their parents’ knowledge and consent,” Rawat said.

The survey by Assocham’s Social Development Foundation (ASDF) of 4,750 parents of children in the age group of 6-13 was conducted in various Indian cities.

YouTube is accessed daily by 76 percent of those below 13 with music video clips being the most popular, and 40-50 percent below the age of nine are also active on other sites.

In the survey, Lucknow ranked first on the YouTube chart followed by Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore, Chandigarh and Dehradun.

“Minors lack the experience or judgement to use a social network and this raises the scary predators tracking down kids who reveal their age in an online chat, cyber bullying and online sexual abuse,” commented Assocham Health Committee chairman B.K. Rao on the findings.

This is despite government’s strict norms that prohibit kids under age of 13 from joining YouTube, but this is norm daily in tier I and II cities which can lead to negative outcomes, cautioned the Assocham.

“The easy availability of technology with lack of parental supervision is a significant reason for this ever-increasing menace of technology addiction… Having a genuine and transparent two-way communication with children is absolutely fundamental to establishing a safe and positive cyber experience,” Rawat noted.

A noteworthy aspect, which emerged from the survey, was that children of working parents were more technology addictive in the absence of parental supervision, as compared to those whose single parent is working, especially in metro where normally both parents are employed.

YouTube is now the world’s third-most popular online destination and of the 3.2 billion people with internet access, more than 1 billion watch it.

It has more Indian viewers ages 18 to 49 just on mobile than any cable network, adds the survey.

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