Kids under nine are web and social networks buffs

Close to half of all children between the ages of six and nine use the internet and social networking to chat with friends, according to a report by insecurity firm AVG.

The figures reveal that young children are using the internet more, including sending emails, talking with friends, playing games and using social networks.

Some 47 per cent of those in the six-to-nine years of age bracket go online to talk with their friends, while 51 per cent of them use a social network geared towards children, such as Club Penguin or WebKinz. In fact, 14 per cent of them are also on Facebook, despite an age limit in place.

The news comes only a week after Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said that he would challenge the age limit for children using Facebook, which is currently set at 13 years of age.

The problem for Zuckerberg is that online bullying and grooming are a major obstacle to overcome. One in six parents of six-to-nine-year olds said that their child had been the victim of “objectionable or aggressive behaviour” online, while the figure increased to one in five for eight to nine year olds.

The average amount of time a child spends online in a week is 3.5 hours for the entire wired world, AVG reckons, but that average increases to four hours for American children.

Just over half of parents had parental control software installed on their children's computers. In an effort to help other parents, AVG has now made its Family Safety software free for users who donate 99 cents to the American Red Cross.

According to AVG data released in January 2011, many two-to-five-year-olds can use a mouse and play a computer game, but cannot ride a bike, swim or tie their shoelaces