Online Habits of Children in Brazil

Published: 12 May 2015

Last Updated: 12 May 2015

Brazilian children are largely present on social networks and are just as engaged with the internet as young users from other countries. In this article we will look at the online habits of children in Brazil.

Brazilian Children’s Engagement with Technology

Historically, children in Brazil have been known to be adept in technologies such as the use of computers and internet access. During their younger years, the generations born since the 1970’s in Brazil took a inegligible part in the first years of internet adoption and the widespread use of personal computers in the country, and to this day remain one of the main segments of population to make frequent use of technology.

This facet of the Brazilian population remains largely present to this day, as children are introduced to the usage of technologies and devices at ever early ages. Recently released data from IBGE, or the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, reveals that as of 2013, 65.2% of Brazilians aged 10 to 14 were internet users, while the segment of 15 to 17 years old were found to be the segment most engaged with the web, with 75% penetration.

From the late 1990’s to the middle of the 2000’s, the use of computers and internet in Brazil was mostly reserved for the upper medium and high social classes. At that time, both the computers and services were charged at a premium price and in some instances were not available to some areas far from large city centers. This scenario has changed considerably during recent years, as both government and private initiatives contributed to the expansion in the offering of these products and services as well as to the increase in their affordability.

The current landscape of technology adoption in Brazil sees children across all regions and social classes making use of computers and mobile devices to connect to the internet, in a variety of places, from schools to cyber cafes and their own homes. Although adoption rates still remain higher in some segments such as children in urban areas and of higher social classes, the country is undoubtedly on the path to achieve technology usage levels for youth similar to what is found in more established economies, such as Europe and the United States.

Statistics on Usage of Technology By Children and Teenagers

A study from 2013 conducted by Cetic, or the Brazilian Center of Studies on Information and Technology, provides insights into the current use of technology by Brazilians aged 9 to 17.

Device Usage and Types of Connection

Desktops are the devices most used by children and teenagers in Brazil to access the internet, as indicated by survey results:

  • Desktops: 71%
  • Mobile Phones: 53%
  • Notebooks: 41%
  • Tablets: 16%
  • Game Consoles: 11%
  • Smart TV’s: 3%

Their research also indicates that young children, aged 9 to 12 years, are more likely to use desktop computers, while teenagers from between 13 and 17 more commonly use mobile phones. Smartphone users aged 9 to 17 were also found to use mobile networks more frequently than wi-fi to connect to the internet, with 73% of children and teenagers using data plans versus 57% that use fixed networks.

Place and Frequency of Connection

Brazilian children and teenagers most commonly access the internet at home, with the places most commonly used to connect online found to be:

  • Shared space at home: 68%
  • Private space at home: 57%
  • Relative’s house: 54%
  • Friends house: 45%
  • School: 37%
  • Open areas such as streets while using mobile devices: 35%
  • Cyber cafes: 22%
  • Public spaces, such as libraries: 7%

Overall, 63% of children and teenagers were found to access the internet every day, and another 27% were found to connect to the internet at least once per week. On weekdays, 12% claimed to be online for over four hours per day, a rate that increases to 19% at weekends. In general, teenagers display more engagement with connection to the internet, as results for this segment show higher frequency and duration for connections.

Most Common Activities When Online

The research presents a comprehensive report of the most common activities for Brazilian children and teenagers when online, with results including:

  • Research for school assignments: 87%
  • Access social networks: 81%
  • Use search engines: 80%
  • Watch videos: 68%
  • Play single-player games: 57%
  • Post photos, videos or songs on social networks: 56%
  • Download music or movies: 50%
  • Post messages on web pages: 42%
  • Use messaging services to talk to friends: 39%
  • Receive or send e-mail: 36%
  • Download free apps: 35%
  • Read news: 34%
  • Watch TV shows or movies: 32%
  • Play multi-player games: 32%
  • Post location updates on social networks: 28%
  • Creating a character, such as a pet: 25%
  • Use webcams: 21%
  • Access chat rooms: 21%
  • Post photos, videos or songs on messaging services: 21%
  • Make VOIP or video calls: 14%
  • Write on blogs or online diaries: 9%
  • Enter virtual worlds: 9%
  • Make purchases: 8%
  • Access file-sharing websites: 8%
  • Pay for app downloads: 7%

Activities such as accessing social networks, watching videos and using messaging apps were found to gather most engagement by Brazilian children and teenagers, as a high percentage of surveyed users claimed to access these websites and services on a daily basis.

Social Network Usage

Roughly four out of five Brazilian users from 9 to 17 years were found to have a profile on social networks, while only 13% claimed to not make use of these services. The most popular social networks for children in Brazil include:

  • Facebook: 83%
  • Google+: 37%
  • Instagram: 16%

The research presents some interesting aspects for the use of social networks by Brazilian youth. For example, 8% of them claimed to have more than one profile on these networks, 93% used a profile picture depicting their faces and 58% did not know how to change privacy settings. In terms of the types of people these children communicated with when online, 14% of young users were found to make contact with people they had not meet personally.

Parenting and Online Habits of Children

The high adoption of technology by Brazilian children can be related to the perspective of the country’s parents, who are generally permissive for their children’s usage of computers and connection to the internet. A study from 2014 from cyber security company AVG discovered that 47% of Brazilian parents checked the content of what their children browsed online, while 51% considered that at age 10 their children had more knowledge of computers than they had.

Another characteristics of the stance of Brazilian parents towards their children's technology usage is related to the placement of devices inside their houses. It is highly common in Brazil, in particular in middle to lower social classes, for computers to be placed in shared spaces such as living rooms instead of private spaces like bedrooms, a practice that facilitates the monitoring of what type of content chidren access when online.

Brazilian parents also commonly provide their children with personal mobile devices. According to IBGE, as of 2013, 49.9% of children aged 10 to 14 owned a mobile phone, while 76.7% of teenagers aged 15 to 17 owned one. Not only that but these parents are complacent to their children’s usage of social networks, as research from 2011 by Trend Micro found that 60% of surveyed children in Brazil were allowed to log into these services.

New Services and Apps for Children in Brazil

The wide adoption of internet usage by children in Brazil has led to the development of new services and apps designed to target this public by taking into account some of its defining characteristics.

The PlayKids app, developed by Brazilian company Movile, has gained significant traction in the country as well as in other territories by offering various types of content, such as videos and games, related to the most popular characters and brands for young children. The app allows for subscription and purchases of sets of videos and activities.

Norwegian social network app Kuddle was launched in 2014 in Brazil, offering an experience similar to what is found for networks like Instagram with features designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Some of the app’s functions include sending notifications to parents about what their kids post on the network, keeping profiles private for strangers and establishing a team of moderators to sort out inappropriate content posted by users.

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Article Author

Marcelo Teixeira

Marcelo Teixeira