Ofcom’s annual Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, which shows that the Internet is becoming a more natural part of young people’s everyday lives. The report revealed that teenagers in the UK spend an average of 17 hours surfing the Internet on a weekly basis, which equals their time in front of the TV set.
Over 40% of children aged five to 15 have signed up to a social media platform, with the rate jumping to 80% among the 12 to 15-year-olds. Youngsters in this age group have 286 social media friends on average, with a quarter of the list comprised of people they have never met in real life. As many as 93% of them claim they know how to stay safe online.
The study also showed an alarming rate of children appearing on the web at an ever younger age. Currently, over a third of kids aged three and four use computers or laptops to play games or watch TV.
Boys and girls aged between 12 and 15 send 193 texts on average weekly, which is more than double the year-earlier number. Texting seems to be most popular among girls, with 221 messages a week, or 35% more than boys.
Smartphones are also gaining strong momentum among teenagers. Compared with a year ago, there has been a 50% rise in smartphone ownership among 12 to 15-year-olds.
Nearly 80% of parents say they have given their children clear rules about Internet use, however less than half of them have installed parental controls on computers at home.