British children want tablets, shun social networks

According to a new report by the UK media regulator Ofcom, tablets are becoming the must have device for children, displacing the smartphone for younger age groups.

Around a quarter of children aged 12-15 (26 percent) and 18 percent aged 8-11 now have their own tablet computer, while household ownership of a tablet has more than doubled since 2012 to 51 percent up from 20 percent. Use of a tablet computer at home has tripled among 5-15s since 2012, 42 percent up from 14 percent, whilst a quarter of 3-4s now use a tablet computer at home.

Smartphones remain popular with older kids though with 62 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds and 18 percent of 8-11s owning one. Older children's smartphone use tends to focus on peer communication.

Ofcom notes that for the first time there has been a decrease in the number of children with social networking profiles, and there appears to be greater diversity in the types of social networking sites being used. Only 68 percent of 12-15s say they have set up a social networking site profile as against 81 percent last year. However, there has also been an increase in the number of children who can potentially be contacted by people unknown to them via their social networking profiles. Parental awareness of the minimum age requirement for Facebook has increased which may account for part of the decrease. Although around half of parents of 5 to 15-year-olds continue to feel that their children know more about the Internet than they do.

Television continues to be a popular source of entertainment but many children now access it in new ways, either via a mobile device or on the broadcaster's website. Children are now less likely to have a TV in their bedrooms with only 52 percent of 5 to 15-year-olds now having one compared to 59 percent in 2012. Disappointing news for those of us who grew up with a transistor radio next to our pillows is that only 15 percent of kids are now likely to have a radio in their bedroom.

You can download the full report as a PDF from the Ofcom website.

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