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Kids Love Tablets, Says New Ofcom Research Study

TMCnet Feature

October 03, 2013

Kids Love Tablets, Says New Ofcom Research Study

By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

Telecommunications regulator firm Ofcom has discovered what many young families and first-time parents are also learning: kids love tablets. Unusually younger children, however, are getting in on the action, and not only for the reasons that some would suspect. No, children are putting tablets to work in an increasing number of ways, and it's having some impact on other sectors of technology.

The newest Ofcom report, part of a set that's released annually, shows that while tablets are on the rise, mobile phones in the sector are on the way down. Ofcom numbers suggested that 49 percent of kids aged five to 15 had a mobile phone in 2012, but in 2013, that number has dropped to 43 percent. That by itself may not mean so much, but it's actually the reversal of a trend that goes back to 2005, in which a drop was, according to reports, not to be found. Said drop could be attributed to the reduced numbers of children with basic mobile phones, which dropped from 28 percent last year to just 15 percent this year.

Tablet use, however, is on the way up and in grand style. In 2012, tablet use was just around the 4 percent mark, but this year, 18 percent own a tablet, which is the same percentage that owns a smartphone. Laptop use is also taking a hit, as the number of users taking a laptop online dropped from 85 percent in 2012 to 68 percent in 2013. Tablets at 13 percent and mobile devices at 11 percent are rapidly gaining, and even the vaunted television is taking a hit. Forty-five percent of children are using a device other than a television to watch, up from 34 percent in 2012.

The move to tablets also seems to be bringing along with it a change in how the devices are used. Social media is becoming less used by younger children, with 12 to 15 year olds actually less likely to have a social media profile anywhere, dropping from 81 percent to 68 percent across 2012 to 2013. There's still near-universal use of Facebook (News - Alert) among those with an active online profile at 97 percent, however.

It's worth noting here that parental concerns are still present, though these concerns vary by age group. Younger children's parents—pretty much anywhere between three and seven—are still most concerned about television, while older children's parents are more concerned about everything, adding the Internet and mobile devices in almost equal portion. Nearly one in five parents—19 percent—are concerned about something a child has seen on television, including images of violence, sexual content or the use of offensive language. Other concerns include issues of cyberbullying or giving out personal information, among other things.

It's all a fairly standard picture, really. Kids have commonly been a little more up on technology than the parents of same have been, and this has resulted in something of an information gap. Parents, not surprisingly, are concerned about the impact that certain kinds of content can have on younger children, as should be the case. As the proliferation of mobile devices continues, even those who don't purchase such devices for children may still have to address the fallout from borrowed devices or those that were merely in the same room as the child in question. Raising children has never been easy, and with the growth of mobile devices and media, it's not likely to get easier any time soon.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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