Half of UK 10-year-olds own a smartphone

Fifty per cent of the UK’s 10-year-olds owned a smartphone in 2019, according to a report by media regulator Ofcom.   The number of young phone owners doubled between the ages of nine and 10, which Ofcom dubbed “the age of digital independence”.  In addition, 24% of 3 and 4-year-olds had their own tablet, and 15% of them were allowed to take it to bed ( oh, dear! Ed)

Ofcom’s annual report looks at the media habits of children, and the types of devices they are using. The 2019 study was based on more than 3,200 interviews with children and parents around the UK.   Among other things, it 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. (which is great! Ed)

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 (up from 43% in 2018)
  • 99% of children aged 5-15 used a TV set, 27% used a smart speaker and 22% used a radio
  • 80% of the children in the report watched video-on-demand, and 25% watched no live broadcast TV at all. One nine-year-old girl told researchers: “I don’t really like the TV because you can’t pick what channels are on it”.

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 increase the number of parents who worry about young people seeing hateful content online and material that might lead children to self-harm.

Just under half (47%) of the parents spoken to were worried about pressure to spend money within games, especially on loot boxes, where the reward is not clear before purchase. And 87% of parents with children aged between 5 and 15  had sought advice about how to keep them safe online, and there are many  more conversations about staying safe online across the country. ( An edited version of an article by Zoe KleinmanTechnology reporter, BBC News)

My comment:  I fear that these phones are often a parental cop-out; that is, you give them this “toy” to keep them quiet and occupied, but the question is what are are really seeing on these websites, and how is it affecting their confidence and self-image, not to mention  their view of the adult world?
For a start Snapchat, Facebook , Whatsapp and the rest should be held to account for all sleazy content, violence, threats, grooming and exploitation.  If they can’t police their offering they should get a proper jobs!  I think this situation is very unhealthy, mentally and physically , too – they should be doing less sedentary activities.


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