January 17, 2022

New Report from UK: “Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report”

Released today by OFCOM (UK Communications Regulator).

From a Summary Blog Post:

The number of children who own a mobile phone is going down, as youngsters reject basic handsets and increasingly turn to tablet computers to access the internet.

The finding is part of Ofcom’s wide-ranging Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, published today, which examines how children access and use different types of media, and the role parents play in overseeing them.

For the first time since the survey began in 2005, the overall number of children aged 5-15 owning a mobile phone has fallen – from 49% last year to 43% in 2013.

This was mainly because the proportion of younger children (8-11) who own a basic mobile phone – as opposed to a smartphone – fell steeply to 15%, from 28% last year. Among this age group, 18% now own a smartphone, and the same proportion own a tablet computer. While the smartphone figure is largely stable year-on-year, tablet ownership has grown four-fold among 8-11s since last year (from 4%).


Tablet computers are growing fast in popularity, becoming a must-have device for children of all ages. The use of tablets has tripled among 5-15s since 2012 (42%, up from 14%), and one quarter (28%) of infants aged 3-4 now use a tablet computer at home.

Similarly, tablet usage is rising rapidly among 5-7 year olds (39%, from 11% last year) and 8-11 year olds (44%, from 13%). These devices are becoming more popular among these youngest internet users, who are five times more likely than last year to mostly use a tablet when accessing the internet at home (19%, from 4%).

At the same time, more traditional devices are being used less to go online, with the proportion of children mainly using a laptop, netbook or desktop computer falling to 68% – down from 85% in 2012. Twice as many children as last year are mainly using other devices to go online, with tablets (13%) and mobiles (11%) the most popular choices.


Around one in five 8-11s (17%) now say they mostly use the internet in their bedroom, up from 12% in 2012.


For the first time, fewer children have online social media profiles. Compared to last year, 12-15s are much less likely to say they have a profile on any device (68%, down from 81%).

The mix of social media used by children is evolving. While nearly all 12-15s with an active online profile continue to use Facebook (97%), they are now less likely to have a profile on Bebo (4%, down from 8% last year) and more likely to have a profile on Twitter (37%, from 25%).

On the wider internet, schoolwork is the most mentioned internet activity carried out at least weekly by 8-11s (75%), followed by games (54%) and finding information (45%). These children are much more likely than last year to use the internet weekly for telephone or video calls (10%, up from 5%) or for going to photo-sharing websites (5%, from 2%).


The majority of parents say they know enough to keep their child safe online, but around half (47%) continue to feel that their child knows more about the internet than they do. This figure is largely stable year on year, but varies by the child’s age. Almost two thirds (63%) of parents of 12-15 year olds – and 14% of parents of infants aged 3-4 – say they know less about the internet than their child.

Parents of 5-15s monitor their child’s internet use in different ways. These include ever talking to their children about staying safe online (79%), having rules about parental supervision (53%) or using some kind of technology (62%).

More than four in ten (43%) of parents of 5-15s who use a home PC, laptop or netbook to go online say they have some kind of parental controls in place. A similar proportion (44%) say that safe search settings are set, and 19% say they have the YouTube safety mode enabled. Less than one in ten (8%) say they have set a pin or password on broadcasters’ websites.

Direct to Full Text Report (PDF) or Embedded Below

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.