Report: Most Kids Wired Down Under

Approximately 95 percent of Australian children aged 5 to 14 haveused a computer in the past 12 months, and 47 percent have accessed the Internet over the past year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Most kids said in the survey that they use their home computers for school or educational activities, as well as for playing games. Favorite youth Web activities also include e-mail, chat rooms and surfing the Net for recreation.

Older children were more likely to have been exposed to computers and the Internet, the survey found, while gender had no effect on use or access patterns.

Home Web Access Growing

As of August, some 3.7 million households, or 53 percent of the Australian population, reported having home computers, while 2.4 million (34 percent) had home Internet access, the government said. That figure represented an increase from a year earlier, when 48 percent of households had computers and 23 percent had home Internet access.

An estimated 6.6 million Australian adults, or 48 percent of the population, had accessed the Internet in the 12 months ended in August, up from 5.6 million, or 41 percent a year earlier.

However, Australian e-commerce remains a relatively small market. Fewer than 6 percent of Australian adults — 802,000 — had used the Internet to purchase goods or services for their own private use during the year, up from 5 percent, or 650,000, a year earlier, the government said.

According to Jupiter Research, the Australian online advertising market will total US$35 million this year, making up 0.5 percent of the country’s advertising spending. In contrast, the online ad market was more than three times larger in Canada, which had a similar online penetration rate to Australia.

Teen Targets

In the U.S., children and teens are a big target for advertisers and merchants. A Jupiter study released in September, however, found that the younger generation’s high level of comfort with the Web does not necessarily translate into dollars for online merchants.

Most kids, according to Jupiter, use the Web for research and comparison shopping rather than purchase. The goods they do buy tend to be lower-priced items like CDs and books, the firm said.

By 2005, Jupiter said, kids and teens will spend $4.9 billion online, though the research they do on the Net will drive some $21.4 billion in offline spending on bigger-ticket items like computers and games.

A separate study from Nickelodeon Online/Harris Interactive found that kids and young adults are spending about $164 billion online. That study, however, included 18-to-24 year-olds, who tend to be bigger spenders, in part because they are more likely to have their own credit cards.

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