Tablets becoming ‘must have’ device for kids- Ofcom

07/10/2013

Tablet usage among UK children is on the rise, with kids ditching mobiles and PCs for tavblets to access the internet, according to new research.

Tablet usage among UK children is on the rise, with kids ditching mobiles and PCs for tavblets to access the internet, according to new research.

The research, from Ofcom also indicates a a drop in the overall number of children between the ages of 5 and 15 who own a mobile phone, with the percentage falling from 49% last year to 43% in 2013. It’s the first such drop since the survey began, back in 2005.

Ofcom attributes the decline to a steep fall in the proportion of younger kids (8-11) owning a basic mobile phone (as opposed to a smartphone). Basic phone ownership among the latter age-group stood at 28% last year and has fallen steeply to 15% this year.

The annual Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report also shows a 14 per cent increase in eight to 11 year olds owning tablets since 2012, with the figure rising to 18 per cent.

In terms of 12 to 15 year olds, tablet ownership has increased by 19 per cent to a total of 26 per cent, with mobile phones more widely used at 62 per cent.

The Ofcom report also presents an increase in tablet usage by toddlers, with 28 per cent of three or four year olds using one at home.

According to the regulator, only 68 percent of children use a computer to access the internet, showing a decrease of 17 per cent since 2012.

In addition, when it comes to parents, almost half (47 per cent) state that they know less than their children about the internet, which includes14 per cent of parents of infants aged three or four.

In terms of usage, Ofcom found that schoolwork is the most mentioned activity carried out at least weekly by 8-11s (75%), followed by games (54%) and finding information (45%), according to Ofcom’s data.

Weekly use of the Internet for telephone or video calls is also on the rise among children vs. last year’s research (now at 10%, up from 5%), as is going to photo-sharing websites (at 5%, up from 2%).

Drop in social media in favour of instant messaging?

The research also shows that fewer children have online social media profiles, with 12-15s much less likely to say they have a profile on any device (68% this year, down from 81% last).

“The mix of social media used by children is evolving. While nearly all 12-15s with an active online profile continue to use Facebook (97%), they are now less likely to have a profile on Bebo (4%, down from 8% last year) and more likely to have a profile on Twitter (37%, from 25%),” the report notes.

Other social networks with a growing profile among this age group include YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr:

Instant messaging is also rising in popularity with this age group. The research found that 12-15s are now less likely to go online weekly to visit social networking sites (67% vs 75%) and more likely to go online for instant messaging (55% vs 45%).

According to the report, children with smartphones send an estimated 184 instant messages in a typical week.

Read the full report here

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