Every year since 2005 Ofcom (UK regulator for communication industries) has published the UK Children's Media Literacy Report. Let's look at some data concerning young teenagers and the net, taken from a survey conducted among a sample of 2071 children 5-15 and their parents (fieldwork took place in two waves, spring and fall 2010). Comparison with 2009 (publication : April 2011)
- 70% of their parents admit to knowing less about the net than their children (by the way, in the U.S., according to Nielsen AC, 1/3 of the apps on parents phones are installed by their kids, around 9 years old)
- 35% own a smartphone ( vs 13% of the 8-11s)
- 23% use their smartphone to go on the net
- number of calls made on the phone decreases (from 25 to 20 per week)
- number of text messages increases (from 104 to 113)
- 81% own a gaming device
- 23% go online with a videogame console
- 56% use the Internet alone, most of the time
- 41% of them access the net from their bedroom (their own private space)
- 38% of them watch video online in ther bedroom (66% for Youtube or the like)
- 8% of them never use the net
- weekly time spent on the net: 15.6 hours (vs 17.2 on TV)
- The media they would miss the most would be their cell phone, and then TV and the net (24% each). TV was 32% in 2009.
Nothing too surpising but mostly confirmation for an age group that doesn't have much free time (school). The smartphone is becoming the first means of communication (calls, text, social networks) and an important way of accessing entertainment (video, videogames).
TV would be less and less missed? Probably because the smartphone and the computer allow the younger people access to video. The TV set becomes less central as teenagers want to be by themselves. As usual, these results are biased by implicit definitions used to survey people, which are inadequate. While talking about TV, one should distinguish the TV set and the programs. Teenagers watch less on the TV set, and compensate online (computer, smartphones). TV nowadays equals TV sets + online video (YouTube, etc.).
What is the most striking is the growing importance of media that isolates teenagers from their family. Is that new? Probably not. Teenagers have always wanted to be left alone. Books, comic books, radio used to and still provide that isolation too.