Almost 75 Per Cent of Australian Parents Blame the Internet for Forcing the ‘Facts of Life’ Conversation to Happen at an Earlier Age

By the age of ten, the majority of Australian children will have already had their first ‘facts of life’ talk with their parents, according to new global research from AVG Technologies. Also revealed is that this is up to five years earlier than their parents’ generation, nearly half of whom (44 per cent) could not remember having had the conversation until the age of 15 – if at all.

The responses covered discussion of adult themes such as porn – which the Australian parents surveyed revealed as the least comfortable topic of conversation – followed by sex and puberty. The Internet was clearly pointed to as a driving force behind the advance in earlier family talks. Concerns over how much time their children spent on devices (a worry for 47 per cent) and how easy it is for them to access inappropriate content online (48 per cent) were clear.

Parents globally rate themselves as the people who are ultimately responsible for making the Internet safer for their kids. To help address their concerns and tackle Internet safety – in an easy and comfortable manner – AVG has created a series of interactive ‘click-or-tell’ digital books, called Magda and Mo. Developed with global Internet safety charity, Childnet International, the introductory book, ‘The Pirate’s Donut’, is a fun story for young readers and their parents to read together as they guide the title characters to decide between going online themselves or asking a grown-up for help.

With AVG’s research indicating confusion over how best to tackle the online safety of their children, the Magda and Mo series help parents with clear, simple suggestions for some of the most effective steps they can take.

While the most popular online safety methods parents said they were currently using varied from country to country, in Australia they included: explicitly forbidding their kids from talking to strangers via Skype and chat rooms (48 per cent); providing access to the Internet or connected devices only under supervision (46 per cent); to only visiting agreed websites and social networks (44 per cent); and only using the Internet for a set amount of time (41 per cent).

Australia has the highest percentage of parents who introduce no controls but that is still low at just 6 per cent. Globally, despite more than eight out of ten (81 per cent) parents implementing one or more restrictions, only a third (35 per cent) of the children who responded to the survey in conjunction with their parents, thought that the Internet could be dangerous.

The majority of Australian parents (61 per cent) also felt that by age 12 their child would know more than them about the Internet and one in five (20 per cent) said that this had or would have already happened by the age of nine.

“This illustrates the need to start the process of learning the do’s and don’ts of the Internet at a young age, and for parents and children undertaking it together as a joint activity,” said Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG Technologies AU. “The importance of having this conversation properly and early cannot be underestimated, as connected device usage is increasing. The Magda & Mo books are part of AVG’s wider aim to support families by providing useful tools that can help develop a child’s understanding of how to make right choices online, as well as giving parents some practical guidance on the subject.”

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  • We started talking from about 3 years old – I think my pregnancy spurred the first one with my eldest. But it made it less of a big deal.


  • I first started discussing the facts of life with my kids when they started asking questions, which was quite young, 3-4ish I guess. Turned out to be a good thing because my daughter had her first period at age 10


  • Yes I think kids can gain access to a lot online so it is important for parents to talk with there kids before this happens.


  • I was handed a book and told to read that when I was in year 5. The unfortunate truth is that the world has changed and children can access quite a lot online. Parents need to be a unified force when explaining the facts of life to their offspring. More education the better I think


  • Early and on going eduction about technology is vital for both parents and kids.


  • I hear that NSW wants this taught in 3rd class. Some kids might be ready and some won’t and I hate to think how far this conversation goes. It will be very interesting when the kids come home and tell their parents what they percieved. Poor teachers will have a whole lots of parents asking questions the next day.


  • I never got that talk so need to do some research on the subject to no what im in for in a few years time.

    • I never got the talk either, some great valuable information online on how to approach it.


  • I was 10 when I got ‘the talk’ & felt I was too young, it was something I wasn’t exposed to & had no idea what my Mum was talking about. I was hoping to wait until my kids were a little older but there is so much around that I think it will be awkward, not to mention probably too late as my neighbour (a teacher) told me they introduce it in 3rd class at her school. :(

    • That’s next year for me (my son will be in 3rd grade). I guess I’m going to go with the fore warned fore armed approach and if questions get asked I will answer them honestly and hopefully in a way that my son can digest for his age level. I had a conversation with some people I work with the other day and we were talking about how girls getting their period seems to be younger than when I was going to school. My colleague said that there were girls in their daughters grade getting their period so I guess my sons age really isn’t too far away from theirs as he will be 9 at the end of the year.


  • Very interesting read. Thank you for sharing


  • I think from an early age we need to start teaching kids so many things to keep them safe in the big bad world that is today


  • Where possible it ahould be the responsibility of the parents to teach their children, even if they do some of it with a child friendly book for them to read as well. My niece came home from school (in her first term at age 5) and told her parents what she had been taught in class,. even that the baby came out head first and some other graphic information. Her parents were not at all impressed and asked for a meeting with the Principal. In discussions with other parents it was discovered that most of the parents with children in that class weren’t happy about it either, especially the fact that a couple of them had a lower than normal IQ and could only understand part of what they were told.


  • Article is misleading & not what I thought it was going to be about.


  • I thought this article was about when to tell children the facts of life but it is all about the internet? Anyhow I don’t believe that the internet and technology now a days is seeing us have to explain these type of things earlier, I just believe that years ago our mothers and fathers and their parents were prudes and left it way tooo late. I remember my mum sitting me down and trying to explain the facts of life to me and I remember saying don’t bother mum I know all this.. and here lies the problem, although I had got the right advice and info from where-ever, many child don’t and get it all wrong and this is were girls get into trouble and unwanted pregnancies happen. TO BE EDUCATED EARLY IS TO BE FOR WARNED OR PREPARED.


  • My son came to me at eight and asked me all about it. I have the policy to tell the truth but always in an age appropriate way. I don’t believe in lying to children about these issues and knowledge can help shape the way they will think about things when they do get to “that” age. I told my son about it in an age appropriate way and he thanked me at the end for telling him, he said he was confused and felt stupid as a heap of kids were all talking about different things at school and didn’t know what to believe. I explained to him that the information I shared is just for him and he is not to tell anyone as each parent has their own way of telling their children when they are ready. He accepted this and said he was just happy that he was no longer confused and although he couldn’t talk about it with his friends, he at least knew the truth himself. I was really happy with the conversation and I’m glad I told him. Albeit I didn’t think it would be so soon, as just like the article I remember not really having a talk about it until around 15, but everything these days is getting younger and younger, thanks to television shows nowadays and the internet.


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