Online purchases by kids without parental permission increased during COVID-19, with 75 percent of the 1,500 parents surveyed for the 2020-21 Olx National Parenting Day study across India saying they noted their kids making impulsive in-app purchases.
The kids were in the 5-18 years of age category and were residing out of the leading metros as well as non-metro cities. Over 60 percent of the participants were from Tier II-and Tier-III cities, where internet penetration and technology usage has heavily accelerated due to the pandemic.
The study was conducted to understand the digital behaviour among kids during the pandemic, and its impact on their stress levels due to prolonged internet usage.
Prolonged screen time and unhindered access to the internet due to online schooling, with little to no alternatives to engage kids during, have exacerbated mental stress, anxiety and compromised online safety mechanisms for them.
It has led to potentially unsafe, dangerous or risky online situations and behaviours that kids are indulging in. Parents believe that their children’s privacy and security are at risk and there are high chances of impersonation of digital identities, hacking, being coerced into sharing private information or making online purchases without parental permission.
Seventy five percent parents who noted their kids making impulsive in-app purchases were also worried that they may be careless in divulging personal information.
But the positive news is that parents are taking action towards monitoring the online activities of their children.
Monitoring of content needed
Eighty percent parents surveyed felt it necessary to actively monitor the content being consumed by their little ones and 75 percent of them now make it a point to supervise their kids’ online activity.
This is in stark contrast to a study conducted by OLX in January 2021, where 60 percent parents surveyed admitted to not monitoring their kids’ online content consumption. Clearly, extended lockdowns have made Indian parents more vigilant and aware.
There is an increasing concern about the mental health of kids, with 60 percent parents surveyed observing a decline in their children’s physical and mental well-being.
Furthermore, 80 percent parents said that the development of their kids’ social skills has been severely impacted. Inputs from respondents also highlight the concrete action taken towards managing this situation.
As coping mechanisms, parents indicate that they have started to take more interest in enhancing their own digital skills (80 percent) to keep up with their kids, and spending dedicated time with their kids to check on their health and well-being more regularly (65 percent).“With one more year of being confined to homes, the new normal has definitely taken a toll on everybody’s mental health. The demand for smart devices and the internet has seen a steep rise due to online classes, not just school classes, but extra-curricular and co-curricular as well. This is a novel experience for both children and parents who need to quickly become comfortable with this new world of learning," said Sapna Aroa, CMO, OLX India.