OFCOM: Significant rise in children’s texting and time spent online


Children are texting and spending more time online than ever before, according to Ofcom’s latest annual report on children’s media habits.

Texting is most prolific among 12-15 year olds, who say they are sending an average of 193 texts every week. This has more than doubled from 12 months ago, when just 91 were sent; and is almost four times as much as the UK average of 50 texts per week.

Older girls (12-15 year olds) are texting significantly more than boys, sending an average of 221 messages a week – 35% more than boys of the same age, who send 164 a week. The average 8-11 year old sends 41 texts each week, almost double the number (23) sent in 2011.

The new report also reveals the increasing role of the internet in children’s lives. For the first time, 12-15 year olds are spending as much time on the internet as they do watching TV. This amounts to an estimated 17 hours a week on each activity.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said:

“Ofcom’s latest research shows that children’s take-up and use of different media is growing at a rapid pace, with some areas such as texting and smartphone ownership fast outstripping the general population. However, children are not just using more media, they are also adopting some forms at a very young age. This highlights the challenge that some parents face in keeping up with their children when it comes to technology and in understanding what they can do to protect children.”

Children and smartphones

Children’s access to the internet is not restricted to PCs or laptops. Those aged 12-15 are more likely than last year to go online using their mobile phones and are more likely to say that this is the device they would miss the most.

Since 2011, there has been a 50% rise in 12-15 year olds owning smartphone devices. Almost two thirds (62%) of this age group now has one – up from 41% the previous year. This is significantly higher than the UK average for adults of 45%.

Mobile phones are more important to this age group than any other device, even TV. Two fifths (39%) of 12-15 year olds now say they would miss their mobile phone more than any other device, up from just over a quarter (28%) in 2011. Only one in five (20%) said that they would miss TV the most.

Around one in seven (14%) of all children aged 5-15 now use a tablet device at home, a threefold increase since 2011 (5%). Children aged 12-15 are most likely to use a tablet, with 17% saying they do, up from 6% in 2011. Here to read more.

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