Teens Would Give Up TV Over Their Mobile Devices
October 27, 2011

Teens Would Give Up TV Over Their Mobile Devices

Despite watching more TV than ever before, young teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 say for the first time they would miss their mobile and Internet gadgets more than TV, according to new research by communications regulator Ofcom.

Nearly 28 percent of young teens said they would miss their mobile phones most, 25 percent said they would miss the Internet the most, and only 18 percent said they would miss TV the most.

The research findings are intriguing since the same age group of teenagers are also watching more TV than ever before, with viewing figures increasing by 2 hours since 2007. In 2010, research revealed that children aged 4-15 watched an average of 17 hours and 34 minutes of TV per week, compared to 15 hours and 37 minutes in 2007.

Roughly 31 percent of children aged 5-15 who use the Internet at home are watching TV via an online catch-up service on their computer or laptop, such as ITV Player.

Ofcom also found that 95 percent of 12-15 year olds now have Internet access at home, up from 89 percent in 2010 and 77 percent in 2007. The communications regulator also found that 75 percent of 12-15 year olds had a profile on a social network, while only 28 percent of 8-11 year olds have a social networking profile, and 3 percent of 5-7 year olds.

But, due to the increase in smartphone ownership, children are visiting social networks more often through mobile connectivity. Half of 12-15 year olds with a smartphone visit social networks weekly, compared to 33 percent in 2010.

While 12-15 year olds use the Internet more for social networking, 8-11 year olds are more likely to use it for gaming, with 51 percent saying they play online games regularly, a 7 percent jump from 2010. Seven in ten 8-11 year olds say they play games -- either on the computer or on a console -- almost every day.

In younger children, notably those in the 5-7 age group, about 48 percent say they would miss television the most, compared to 25 percent of those who would miss video games most, and only seven percent saying they would miss the Internet, and only 1 percent missing mobile phones.

Ofcom also researched online safety risks and concerns.

For the most part, parents are very confident about their children using the Internet safely, and the vast majority (88 percent) of children aged 8-15 feel they know how to remain safe online. About 97 percent say they are confident Internet users. However with increasing use of media, there remain some safety issues.

About 20 percent of 12-15 year olds said they had experienced a negative mobile or online situation in the past year, with gossip being spread the most common issue at 13 percent. Girls (44 percent) are more likely to know someone who has had gossip spread about them then boys (29 percent) are.

Nearly one in four teens say they know someone who has been bullied through their mobile phone.

Online bullying and negative gossip is possibly heightened due to the fact that many children still have social networking profiles that are set to where friends of their friends can view them, and also many children that play games online play against people they don´t know personally.

However, the research also reveals that in some areas parents of children who use the Internet at home are increasing their supervision and protection.

Nearly 54 percent of parents of 5-15 year olds say they supervise their child in some way when they are online, up from 48 percent in 2010. Four in ten parents (38 percent) say that Internet controls or filtering software work well, such as Yahoo! ℠safe search´ or YouTube safety mode.

And 31 percent of parents whose child has a web enabled mobile phone has limited their access to exclude websites aimed at adults.

Children, however, are also becoming more aware of the potential risks, with 12 percent of 8-11 year olds with a social profile saying they talk to people not directly known to them, down from 22 percent in 2010. Figures have also dropped in 12-15 year olds, from 32 percent in 2010 to 24 percent this year.

“The almost universal use of the internet at home by 12-15s — both for their education as well as their entertainment — is a positive step forward,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive. “The research also shows that parents and children are increasingly aware of how to be safe when using the internet. But risks do remain. Better understanding — amongst parents as well as their children — is key to helping people to manage content and communications, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of media use while protecting themselves from the potential risks.”


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