According to a report by media regulator, Ofcom, fifty per cent of the 10 year olds in the UK own a smartphone. The 2019 study was based on more than 3,200 interviews with children and parents around the UK.

Strategy and research group director, Yih-Choung Tey voiced concerns over the fact that there are now children who have never known a world without the internet, and for whom ‘their online and offline worlds are indistinguishable’. The report also found that more older children were using social media to express their support for social causes and organisations, with 18% having shared or commented on a post, and one in ten having signed an online petition.

Other key findings for 2019 included –

  • 48% of girls aged 5-15 played online games, compared with 71% of boys. Boys spent twice as long playing, clocking up 14.5 hours per week, compared with 7.5 for girls
  • Snapchat and Facebook remained the most popular social media platforms of older children, but 62% were also using WhatsApp
  •  99% of children aged 5-15 used a TV set, 27% used a smart speaker and 22% used a radio

Ofcom also interviewed parents about their concerns. It found that 45% of parents thought the benefits of children using the internet outweighed the risks, but there was an overall increase in parental concern about young people seeing content that might lead them to self-harm with around 87% of parents seeking advice on how to keep their children safe online.
Following the report, children’s charity the NSPCC called for independent regulators to force social media platforms to protect their users from viewing harmful material.
“While it’s encouraging that parents are talking to their children about their media use, we must look to tech giants to protect their users and ensure they are a force for good not bad,” said Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy. (4th February)