Microsoft Survey Finds Age 8 is When Parents Allow Unsupervised Internet and Device Use

We're being bombarded by gadgets and mobile electronic devices that offer persistent online connectivity, and if you're a parent, that means having to decide when to allow your child to have access to certain gear, like computers, tablets, smartphones, handheld gaming devices, and so forth. Every family is different and therefore there's really no correct answer, though a recent survey by Microsoft does reveal some interesting insight into how other parents are dealing with the digital age.

According to Microsoft's survey, 94 percent of parents allow their kids to use at least one online service or device. What's a bit more interesting -- and perhaps surprising -- is that age 8 emerged as the average age at which parents allow independent Internet and device use.

Kid Computer
Instead of just monitoring PC use, today parents face a barrage of digital devices, including tablets, smartphones, and handheld gaming devices, to name a few.

"Overall, the results reveal that parents may be cooler than kids think," Microsoft says. "For example, non-parents who took the poll where stricter when it comes to when and how they’d allow children to access online technologies—by an average age gap of two years, with 16 percent saying they would not allow children ages four to six to use a device such as gaming console without supervision."

We don't know if that makes parents "cooler" as opposed to more lax. Either way, what's even more surprising are the survey results from parents with children under the age of 7. Among them, 29 percent said they allow their toddler to use mobile phones unsupervised; 40 percent don't monitor their PC use; and 41 percent allow their children to use a gaming console unsupervised.

"There is no magic age, but rather, parents should take into consideration the appropriateness for their individual family and responsibility or maturity level of their child," Microsoft says.