TV less essential than internet and mobiles for today’s teenagers

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More teenagers would be more willing to give up watching TV than to stop using their mobiles or the internet.

A study for media regulator Ofcom found that more than a quarter of 12 to 15-year-olds interviewed said they would miss their phones (28 per cent) and one in four (25 per cent) said they would miss internet access compared to fewer than one in five (18 per cent) for TV.

It is the first time teenagers have chosen their phones and the internet over TV, the regulator said.

They found 24 per cent would miss TV the most when the same question was asked last year.

Those aged four to 15 watched a weekly average of 17 hours and 34 minutes last year, almost two hours more than the 15 hours and 37 minutes of 2007.

Nearly all (95 per cent) 12-15-year-olds now have internet access at home through a PC or laptop, up from 89 per cent in 2010 and 77 per cent in 2007.

But the proportion of youngsters with home internet access who have a social networking profile remained fairly static from last year at 3 per cent of five to seven-year-olds, 28 per cent of eight-11s and 75 per cent of 12-15s.

Half of 12 to 15-year-olds with smartphones said they visited social networking sites weekly, up from 33 per cent in 2010.

Nearly a quarter of teenagers (23 per cent) – 30 per cent of teenage girls – said they knew someone who had been bullied through their mobile.

The figure for 12 to 15-year-olds fell to 24 per cent from 32 per cent in 2010.

The study also found almost seven in 10 (68 per cent) of eight to 11-year-olds said they played either a computer or video game nearly every day, up from 59 per cent in 2010.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “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.

“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 the 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,” he added.

Ofcom interviewed 1,717 parents and children aged five to 15 in their homes earlier this year.

Comment: Page 12.