More than 5 per cent of young children have their own smartphone

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According to new statistics, children are opting to view content on devices rather than on the TV.


A total of 6 per cent of three-to-seven-year-olds have a smartphone

Ofcom’s annual report into children’s media use and attitudes, published today, reveals that 6 per cent of three- to-seven-year-olds have their own smartphone, while 5 per cent have  a social media profile.

The report by the UK's communications regulator is based on analysis of media use of around 2,000 three- to-15-year-olds across the UK.

Three- and four-year-olds

A breakdown of the figures by age shows that 19 per cent of three- to-four-year-olds have their own tablet and 52 per cent go online for nearly nine hours a week.

A total of 45 per cent use YouTube. The viewing platform is also popular with older children.

While the report suggested that parental concerns about the internet are rising, just under half of parents of three- to-four-year-olds agreed that the benefits of the internet outweigh any risks for their child.

Nearly all parents of this age group said they mediate their child’s use of the internet in some way, either through technical tools, supervision, rules, or talking to their child about staying safe.

Key trends

In general, the report highlights the following trends in children’s media use across the ages:

  • a decrease in the use of computers, games consoles and DVD/Blu-Ray players.
  • a fall in time spent watching TV on a TV set.
  • On-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV are popular.
  • an increase in online gaming among five- to-15-year-olds.
  • Facebook falling slightly out of favour.
  • Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, gained in popularity.

Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, said, 'Children have told us in their own words why online content captures most of their attention. These insights can help inform parents and policymakers as they consider the role of the internet in children’s lives'

The report, 'Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2018', is available here

  • Read more on the debate about screentime limits for young children in next week's Nursery World out on Monday (4 February).
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