- The shocking scale of children’s internet obsession revealed by new Ofcom study
- Seven out of ten take their phone to bed and even under-5s spend hours online
- A fifth of children 8-12 are on social media – despite a supposed ban on under-13s
- A growing number of parents admit to having ‘lost control’ of children’s habits
Children have become such screen addicts they are abandoning their friends and hobbies, a major report warns today.
Researchers found under-fives spend an hour and 16 minutes a day online. Their screen time rises to four hours and 16 minutes when gaming and television are included.
Youngsters aged 12 to 15 average nearly three hours a day on the web – plus two more hours watching TV. The study said YouTube was ‘a near permanent feature’ of many young lives, and seven in ten of those aged 12 to 15 took smartphones to bed. It concluded: ‘Children were watching people on YouTube pursuing hobbies that they did not do themselves or had recently given up offline.’ A growing number of parents admitted to researchers that they had lost control of their children’s online habits
Campaigners described the report from media watchdog Ofcom as frightening.
‘In the early years, children need interaction with other people, and play – it is key to their social skills,’ said Sue Palmer of the group Toxic Childhood.
‘If that doesn’t happen when they are small, I don’t know where it leads. There is the screen time itself, and then there is what the screen time is displacing.’
The annual report, which was based on 2,000 interviews, also revealed that:
- Children aged five to 15 spend 20 minutes more online a day than watching TV;
- One in five pre-schoolers and two-fifths of five- to eight-year-olds have an iPad or tablet device;
- A fifth of children aged eight to 12 are on social media – despite a supposed ban on under-13s;
- Nearly one in five children aged 12 to 16 have accidentally spent money online.
Children aged three and four still watch more television than online videos, but their TV consumption is shrinking whilst their time online is rocketing.