January 11, 2010 / 6:45 PM / 9 years ago

Europe's Internet kids like to keep it real

LONDON (Reuters) - They’ve never known a world without the Internet, but they still prefer to meet their friends offline.

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles October 13, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A new survey of eight to 14-year-old Europeans by U.S. entertainment, film and theme park company Walt Disney Co showed that the children of Generation X are web-savvy, videogame-playing environmentalists who love their parents.

The survey of 3,020 children across Europe — who Disney has dubbed “Generation XD” — said they embraced cutting-edge technology and traditional family values at the same time, using the Internet as a toy and a tool for homework.

“Generation XD kids have a heightened understanding of socio-economic issues, deep family values and are already demonstrating behavioral patterns that will have a deep impact on the future,” Executive Director of EMEA Research for Disney Channels Victoria Hardy said in an emailed statement containing the survey’s results.

Despite the prevalence and popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, almost a third of respondents said that they preferred to meet friends face-to-face, although 44 percent said the internet made it easier to keep in touch with them.

More than seven in 10 children said their most common use of the Internet was for gaming, while 59 percent said that they used the worldwide web in the course of doing their homework.

The youngsters from Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Poland also expressed a strong sense of social responsibility, with 90 percent saying it was important to look after the planet, and 74 percent saying they recycled regularly.

Traditional values shone through with 70 percent of respondents saying that saving pocket money was important to them and that the people they most admired were their parents.

Professions which have been around a lot longer than the information superhighway continued to attract the aspirations of today’s European youths. Respondents said their top five professions were veterinarian, teacher, professional soccer player, doctor and police officer.

“As the kids of Generation X, who embraced all mod cons in their twenties, you’d expect Generation XD to be fully versed in how the internet can help them,” said Tom Dunmore, Consulting Editor of gadget and consumer electronics magazine Stuff.

“What’s interesting though, is how they are embracing both cutting edge technology and traditional family values in their approach to life.”

Oxford Center for Research into Parenting and Children Director Ann Buchanan said that some studies have made the case that prolonged exposure to TV and computers can result in increased obesity and violence in children.

“The technology revolution has been a huge benefit to children enabling them to socialize and access information - provided they know how to use it,” she said.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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