These days, what kids do online is a big item. Everyone from self-appointed watchdog groups to parents to marketers want to know what children are up to on the ‘net. One media firm decided to find out.

A company called Mediamark Research and Intelligence polled 5,000 children between the ages of 6-11 (or first-sixth graders) about their online activities. The results were published just recently, and make for some interesting reading.

Of course, the numbers need to be approached with some care, because that’s all we have, and what sort of cross-section used isn’t mentioned in the report.

The main result is that just over 78% of the kids reported that they played online games. However, which games isn’t detailed. Nor is how much time, on average, they spend per day on games. Also not covered is whether they played any or all of these games on a computer or a console. Surprising omissions there.

About 34% (the next big group) used the Internet for school-related work and homework. Obviously, not as big an attraction as having a good time ;)

Boys were five times as likely as girls to go looking for game tips and cheats. However, it isn’t known if they were looking for cheats for online or offline games. Still, there seems to be an indication here that either (a) boys and girls are playing different games or (b) girls are smarter and don’t need cheats. Heh.

In fact, there’s no breakdown at all of type of game(s) played by gender. Another surprising omission. If I were marketing products for kids, this is something I’d want to know. For that matter, if I were making games for kids, I’d really want to know that.

Boys were a bit more likely to download games, but overall, only 11.8% indulged in that activity. Apparently, online gaming is more attractive.

There’s a lot of worry about what might happen to children in chat rooms. If this report is accurate, that may not be much of a worry. Only 3.7% overall said they used chat rooms, the lowest percentage of all activities queried. Too busy playing games, no doubt.

I came across this over at rockpapershotgun. They have just a small post on this (with an odd title), but they do link to the report (a 2-page Adobe file). Take a moment and read it for yourself.

Girls Who Gank Boys on rockpapershotgun