FEWER children are owning a mobile phone, as they switch increasingly to tablets – according to figures published by the broadcasting and telecoms regulators, Ofcom.
Says Ofcom, in its latest Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes report, while there has been a decline in the number of 5–15s owning a mobile phone (43 per cent versus 49 per cent in 2012), the number of 8-11 year-olds (18 per cent) and 12-15 year-olds (62 per cent) owning a smartphone has remained relatively stable.
But the number of tablets being used by 5-15 year-olds has tripled since last last, alongside a decline in TVs, radios and games players in children’s bedrooms.
Other figures revealed by Ofcom…
* Around one quarter of children aged 12– 15 (26 per cent) and 18 per cent aged 8-11 have their own tablet computer, while household ownership of a tablet has more than doubled since 2012 (51 per cent versus 20 per cent). Use of a tablet computer at home has tripled among 5-15s since 2012 (42 per cent versus 14 per cent) while one-quarter (28 per cent) of 3-4s use a tablet computer at home.
* Ownership of mobile phones among children aged 5-15 has decreased to 43 per cent. This is a decline of six percentage points since 2012, driven by a ten percentage point decline in ownership for 8-11s (33 per cent versus 43 per cent) and a five percentage point decline for 12-15s (82 per cent versus 87 per cent). However, smartphone ownership has remained stable for 8-11s (18 per cent) and 12-15s (62 per cent).
* The number of children aged 5-15 who have a television in their bedroom has fallen to 52 per cent (59 per cent in 2012) and they are also less likely to have a radio in the bedroom (15 per cent versus 19 per cent). One in five 3-4s (22 per cent) have a TV in their bedroom. Similarly, children aged 5-15 are now less likely to have a games console/ player in their bedroom (47 per cent versus 56 per cent). This reflects a decline in the use of fixed and handheld games players (81 per cent versus 86 per cent) compared to a threefold increase among 5-15s in using tablet computers to play games (23 per cent versus seven per cent).5
* Around one in five 8-11s (17 per cent) now say they use the internet mainly in their bedroom; this is up from 12 per cent from 2012.
* Children mostly accessing the internet via a laptop/ netbook/PC has decreased to 68 per cent – down from 85 per cent in 2012. As a result, the number of children who are now mainly using an alternative device to go online has doubled to 32 per cent, from 15 per cent in 2012, with tablets (13 per cent) and mobiles (11 per cent) the most popular devices.
* Almost a quarter of children are using tablets to go online – nearly three times as many as last year (23 per cent versus nine per cent). Over half of 12-15s use a mobile phone to go online at home (52 per cent versus 44 per cent in 2012).
* Younger children who go online at home, in particular, are five times more likely than in 2012 to mostly use a tablet computer (19 per cent versus four per cent for 5-7s, 15 per cent versus three per cent for 8-11s). One in eight 3-4 year-olds use a tablet computer to go online (12 per cent).
* Among 8-11s, schoolwork/ homework is the most commonly-mentioned internet activity carried out at least weekly (75 per cent), followed by games (54 per cent) and information (45 per cent).
* Children aged 8-11 are now more likely to use the internet weekly for making/receiving telephone or video calls using services like Skype or FaceTime (ten per cent versus five per cent) and for going to photo-sharing websites such as Flickr, Instagram and Snapfish (five per cent versus two per cent). They are less likely to use the internet at least weekly for avatar websites (27 per cent versus 36 per cent) as are 5-7s (21 per cent versus 33 per cent). Games are the most commonly-mentioned online activity carried out at least weekly by the majority of 3-4s (58 per cent).
* Among 12-15s, schoolwork/ homework is the most commonly-mentioned internet activity (84 per cent), followed by information (79 per cent) social networking (68 per cent) and watching audiovisual content (68 per cent). A majority of 12-15s also go online weekly for other communication (66 per cent) for games (54 per cent) and for music (53 per cent).
* Children aged 12-15 with a smartphone are more likely than those with a non-smartphone to use their phone at least weekly for four activities: looking at videos or clips posted by other people on sites like YouTube (50 per cent versus 36 per cent), sending/ receiving photos (38 per cent versus 30 per cent), putting photos or videos on sites like YouTube, Facebook or Instagram for others to see (33 per cent versus 17 per cent) and watching TV programmes or clips (23 per cent versus 16 per cent).
* Compared to 2012, 12-15s are sending more text messages in a typical week (255 versus 193 texts) while smartphone users are sending an estimated 184 instant messages (IM) in a typical week. This volume of instant messages is equivalent to the volume of text messages sent by 12-15s in 2012.
* Four in ten (41 per cent) 12-15s with an active profile say they mostly use a mobile phone to visit their main social networking site profile – which makes this the most popular device for accessing their profiles.
* Compared to last year, 12-15s are now less likely to say they have set up a social networking site profile (68 per cent versus 81 per cent). There has also been a decrease since 2012 in the proportion of children aged between 8-12 (under-age users) with an active profile on Facebook/Bebo or MySpace (22 per cent; down from 30 per cent in 2012).
* Nearly all 12-15s with an active social networking profile continue to use Facebook (97 per cent). Since 2012 they are less likely to have a profile on Bebo (four per cent versus eight per cent) and more likely to have a profile on Twitter (37 per cent versus 25 per cent). Boys are more likely than girls to have an active profile on YouTube (31 per cent versus 21 per cent) while girls are three times more likely to have a profile on Tumblr (12 per cent versus four per cent). As a proportion of all children (as distinct from those who use the internet at home), 24 per cent of all 12-15s have a profile on Twitter, compared to 62 per cent of all 12-15s with a Facebook profile.
* 12-15s are now less likely to go online weekly to visit social networking sites (67 per cent versus 75 per cent) and more likely to go online for instant messaging (55 per cent versus 45 per cent). But the majority of 12-15s (85 per cent) access their main social networking site profile every day and one in five (20 per cent) do so more than ten times a day. This figure increases to 27 per cent among those 8-15s who access their profile mainly on any type of mobile phone.
* Children are more likely to exceed their call allowance than their mobile data allowance Most children aged 5-15 with their own mobile phone use pay-as-you-go (61 per cent), while half of those with a smartphone (48 per cent) use a monthly contract. One in five parents whose child’s mobile phone is on a monthly contract have received unexpectedly high bills in the past 12 months – with ten per cent saying this is due to their child exceeding their call allowance, and five per cent saying it is due to their child exceeding their data allowance.
* In 2013, children are more likely to watch television programmes on devices other than a TV set; over four in ten children aged 5-15 are using alternative devices to watch TV content. This is a significant increase since 2012 (45 per cent versus 34 per cent) and reflects the growth in tablets, with 15 per cent of 5-15s watching TV programmes on tablets.
* A quarter of children aged 12-15 (25 per cent) ever watch TV programmes using a mobile phone, and three in ten 8-15s (29 per cent) use on-demand services. One in three children aged 5-15 (34 per cent) who go online at home are now watching television content via UK TV broadcasters’ websites.
* A quarter of 3-4s watch TV at home using an alternative device, and 20 per cent use on-demand services.
* Overall, children aged 5-15 spend more time watching television than using other media. The majority of TV viewers and internet users aged 12-15 feel that these media help them understand what is going on in the world, make them aware of different types of people and opinions, and help them form their own opinions.
* Television continues to be the medium that children aged 5-15 say they would miss the most, of all the activities they undertake regularly. However, children aged 8-11 are more likely than in 2012 to say they would miss using the internet (15 per cent versus ten per cent).
* Children aged 12-15 are still twice as likely to say that, of all the media they use regularly, they would most miss their mobile phone (39 per cent), compared to the next most-missed media: using the internet (19 per cent) and watching television (19 per cent). This rises to half (51 per cent) of 12-15s with a smartphone.
* Thirty-six per cent of 8-15s with a mobile phone, who watch television and go online at home, undertake any type of cross-media multi-tasking ‘most times’ when they are using these media. This is more likely for older children; 42 per cent of 12 -15s say they do multi-tasking ‘most times’.
* Eighty-three per cent of 8-11 year olds and 91 per cent of 12-15s say that they are confident about how to stay safe online, and 67 per cent of 12-15s say they are confident that they can judge whether websites are truthful. As context, a majority of 8-11s (61 per cent) say they only visit websites they’ve visited before, compared to slightly less than half of 12-15s (49 per cent). Among 12-15s, boys are more likely than girls to say they visit lots of websites they haven’t visited before (13 per cent versus five per cent).
* The incidence of children disliking seeing things online that are too old for them, or things that make them feel sad, frightened or embarrassed, has decreased since 2012 for both 8- 11s (15 per cent versus 23 per cent) and 12-15s (ten per cent versus.15 per cent).
* There have been some decreases in children’s online safety skills. On average, 12-15s have never met, in person, three in ten (on average, 78) of the friends listed on their main social networking site profile. A substantial minority of 12-15s have a social networking profile which may be visible to people not known to them, and this has increased since 2012 (33 per cent versus 22 per cent). Children with a social networking site profile that may be visible to people not known to them are more likely to have undertaken some kind of potentially risky online behaviour, such as adding people to their contacts they don’t know in person, or sending photos or personal details to people only known online.
* Compared to 2012, children are less likely to know how to block messages from someone they don’t want to hear from (53 per cent versus 68 per cent) and to have done this in the past year (32 per cent versus 42 per cent). However, more positively, compared to 2012, only a very small number of 8-15s now say they would not tell someone if they found something online that was worrying, nasty or offensive (one per cent versus three per cent for 8-11s, and four per cent versus eight per cent for 12-15s).
* Close to half (48 per cent) of 12-15s, after being provided with a description of online personalised advertising, said they were aware of this practice, while 42 per cent said that they were not aware that websites could use their information in that way. A majority of 12-15s (53 per cent) said they were either unsure how they felt about it, or felt it was neither a good or a bad thing. Twenty-one per cent said they thought it was a bad thing (down from 33 per cent in 2012).
* Almost one in ten 12-15s (eight per cent) and four per cent of 8-11s say they have experienced online bullying in the past year. Close to half of all 12-15s know someone with experience of negative online/mobile phone activity such as online bullying, gossip being spread or embarrassing photos being shared. One in five say they have personal experience of negative online/mobile phone activity.
* Girls aged 12-15 are more likely than boys to say they know of someone who has been bullied through a mobile phone (33 per cent versus 20 per cent) and to say they have themselves experienced bullying in this way (12 per cent versus three per cent). Girls aged 12-15 are also more likely than boys to say they feel under pressure to appear popular or attractive online (six per cent versus one per cent) and to have experienced gossip being spread about them online or through texts (17 per cent versus ten per cent).
Source: Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, Ofcom, October 3 2013.