Research Shows Canadian Kids Learning Tech Skills Before Life Skills

Canadian 2-5 year olds are more likely to be able to navigate with a mouse, play a computer game and increasingly – operate a smartphone – than swim, tie their shoelaces or make their own breakfast.    

This is according to Internet Security Company AVG (, which has released the second part of its Digital Diaries campaign.    AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at how kids’ interaction with technology has changed.   

This second piece of research covered 2200 mothers with Internet access and with children aged 2-5 in the Canada, the USA, the EU5 (UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain), Japan, Australia and New Zealand.   

The mothers were given a list of tech skills and a list of life skills and asked which ones their very young children had mastered.   The key results are as follows:

1 – More small children can play a computer game than ride a bike.  58% of Canadian 2-5 year olds can play a ‘basic’ computer game (across all ten countries the figure is similarly 58%).   By comparison, 49% of Canadian 2-5 year olds can ride a bike (52% across all countries, 45% for the USA).

2 – More Canadian kids aged 2-5 can play with a smartphone application (18%) than tie their shoelaces (11%).  Across all ten countries surveyed, almost as many 2-3 year olds (17%) can play with a smartphone application as 4-5 year olds (21%)

3 – Small children in Canada are more likely to have acquired basic web skills than their peers in the other countries that were part of the study.   A third (33%) of Canadian 2-5 year olds know how to open a web browser, compared to 25% across all countries.   Meanwhile 22% of 2-5 year olds in Canada can navigate between websites – across all ten countries the figure was 16%.

4 – Looking at all ten countries, there is no tech gender divide between young boys and girls.  As many boys (58%) as girls (59%) can play a computer game or make a mobile phone call (28% boys, 29% girls)

5 – Mothers aged 35 and over are slightly better at teaching their kids ‘life skills.’  For example 40% of toddlers with mothers aged 35+ can write their own name compared with 35% of toddlers with mothers aged 34 or younger

6 – Continental European children aged 2-5 lead their North American counterparts in knowing how to make a mobile phone call (44% Italy, 33% Germany, 28% France vs 24% in Canada, 25% for the US)

According to AVG CEO JR Smith: “Technology is having a big impact on small kids today, creating an environment that is totally different to their parents childhood”

“The smartphone and the computer are increasingly taking the place of the TV as an education and entertainment tool for their children. While there is certainly nothing wrong with children learning to get to grips with technology early, parents obviously need to ensure that this is done in a responsible way, and that the tech skills that kids learn are balanced with key life skills.

“As our research shows, parents also need to start educating kids about navigating the online world safely at an earlier age than they might otherwise have thought.”

AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at children of different age groups.   A year long piece of research, AVG aims to conduct a comprehensive study about children’s technology habits.

The first piece of research, released in October 2010, found that most babies and toddlers have an online footprint by the time they are six months old.   


For a blog post by JR Smith on the study, please go to:
For an infographic that visualises the research, please go to:
For more information please contact Bridey Lipscombe or Kate Brennan at the Rabbit Agency on +44(0)208 123 9541 /

* Key results *

Skills mastered by 2-5 year olds.   All countries, Canada % in (brackets)

1 – Tech skills

How to operate a computer mouse 69% (75%)

Play a basic computer game 58% (58%)

Turn a computer on and off 63% (57%)

Know how to make a mobile phone call 28% (24%)

Know how to open a web browser 25% (33%)

Can operate a smartphone or tablet app 19% (18%)

Know how to navigate between websites 16% (22%)

Know at least one web address 15% (24%)

Know at least one email address 5% (5%)

2 – “Life” skills
Know how to complete a jigsaw 77% (81%)

Can recognize their name when written 66% (72%)

Know how to ride a bike 52% (49%)

Know their home address 39% (30%)

Can write 1st and last name 37% (34%)

Know how to make their breakfast 27% (29%)

Know how to swim unaided 20% (22%)

Know what to do in an emergency (e.g call 911 / 999) 20% (30%)

Can tie own shoelaces 11% (18%)

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