Education & Family

Children 'switching from TV to mobile internet'

Young people and mobile phones
Image caption Young people's lives increasingly revolve around mobile phones, suggests an annual survey

Television is being pushed aside by mobile internet gadgets, a UK survey of young people's technology suggests.

The number of children with televisions in their bedroom is falling - almost matched now by those with their own personal internet access, says the annual Childwise monitoring survey.

Among seven to 16 year olds, 61% have a mobile phone with internet access.

Children use their mobiles for an average of 1.6 hours a day, the survey of 2,770 five to 16 year olds says.

The biggest trend in children's use of gadgets, according to the report from the market research company, is the growth in internet use through mobile phones.

The survey was based on interviews carried out in autumn 2011.

Push-button culture

The report presents a picture of a typical young person's home life which increasingly revolves around the mobile phone.

Talking, texting and accessing the internet are now reached through the mobile - with more than three-quarters of secondary-age pupils now using mobiles to get online.

The way children use media through the day is also changing, says the research, suggesting a push-button, on-demand culture, which is moving away from scheduled television programmes.

Before school, children are now more likely to play with their mobiles than watch television.

When children get home from school, instead of rushing to switch on the television, they are more likely to reach for the internet.

When children are reading at home, it is more likely to be through a screen rather than a book or a magazine.

Even in bed at night, the mobile phone is being used by 32% of children across the five to 16 age range.

It also seems to be approaching game over for old-style PCs in children's bedrooms - which have been replaced by laptops and tablet-style computers.

Land-line telephones are also looking like yesterday's world for many of these youngsters - with the research claiming that more children know how to send a text message than find a telephone number.

Facebook remains the most popular website - used by 51% of children in the week before the survey - but the researchers suggest that it is showing signs of having "fallen back".

End of the portable?

Research director Rosemary Duff says that the growth of mobile internet is the most significant change in how children use technology.

The decline in television use is continuing - and she says it appears that the portables once bought for children's bedrooms are not being replaced.

But she says that television should not be written off prematurely - as it still plays a very important role in the media lives of children.

Even though children might be using the internet more than ever, she says, the content can be often be related to television programmes.

Mobile phones and the internet each occupy about an hour and a half on average per day - but television viewing on average still accounts for two and half hours.

And the "multi-tasking" talents of teenagers mean that many youngsters using the internet, or playing on a games console, are also watching television.

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