Teenagers value mobiles over TV

Why don't you... just switch off your television set and check Facebook on your mobile
Darren Allan

October 25, 2011
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Ofcom has produced another one of its surveys looking at the nation’s viewing and surfing habits.

This one is focused on youngsters aged between 5 and 15 and their parents, examining their use of media and attitude towards the various different mediums.

The headline result is that the teens surveyed, those 12 to 15, said that they would miss their mobile phone and the internet more than television.

Historically speaking, the TV has been the one entertainment medium that kids would rather not be without, but the increasing spread and power of smartphones is changing that notion rapidly.

And, no doubt, the more widespread numbers of youngsters on social networking sites such as Facebook, where an increasing amount of communication takes place.

The hard stats were that 28% of these teens said they would badly miss their mobile, 25% the internet, and only 18% the TV.

However, the television is hardly about to be consigned to the under-stairs cupboard along with the VCR (and Ronco Buttoneer, possibly). In fact despite those figures, kids are still watching more TV these days.

In 2010, kids aged 5 to 15 watched an average of 17 and a half hours of TV per week. That’s up two hours on 2007’s result.

Having said that, a third of those who use the net at home are watching via on-demand services such as the iPlayer on their computers.

Indeed, as we’ve already said, according to Ofcom’s figures social networking remains one of the most popular uses of the net for the 12 to 15 age bracket. Half of teens who owned a smartphone visited the likes of Facebook on their mobile every week, compared with a third last year.

Video games also came under the scope, with 8 to 11-year-olds more likely to be gaming than on social networks. 51% played online games on a weekly basis, up from 44% last year.

Time spent video gaming increased by a greater factor, with it now standing at an average of almost 10 hours per week for 8 to 11s, which is up 25% from 8 hours last year.

The survey also pointed to increased levels of parental supervision of kids on the net.

54% of parents now supervise their child when they’re online, which is up from 48% last year. 40% use some manner of parental control or filter software to help protect their children from dodgy sites.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “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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