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Half of three- and four-year-olds use a tablet

By Rachel Lawlerchildren using tablet computer

Nearly half of three- and four-year-olds regularly use a tablet and almost a quarter have one of their own, according to the latest report from Ofcom.

Ofcom’s annual report looks into children’s use of media and digital devices, based on a survey of 3,200 children and parents.

The survey found that 49% of children aged three- and four-years-old use a tablet, while 20% use mobile phones.

Emerging trends
Conducted in 2019, the survey also noticed changing trends in the way young children access media, with 95% of three- and four-year-olds watching TV on a TV set, down from 98% in 2015. 36% of children aged three and four watch TV on a tablet, up from 20% in 2015.

YouTube is an increasingly popular choice for young children, with 51% of three- and four-year-olds watching videos on the site, compared to 37% in 2016. More children watch videos on YouTube than watch videos on BBC, Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Parental concerns
78% of parents of three- and four-year-olds said that they found it difficult to control their child’s screen time, up from 72% in 2018. Parents of older children (aged five to 15) were concerned about online safety with almost half concerned about content that encourages children to harm themselves and a third concerned about radicalisation online.a third concerned about radicalisation online.

However, 43% of parents of three- and four-year-olds believe that the benefits of digital devices outweigh the potential risks – a decrease from 65% in 2015. Around six in 10 parents said that digital devices had helped their child to develop creative skills and learn new things.

Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, said: “Today’s children have never known life without the internet, but 2 million parents now feel the internet causes them more harm than good.

“So it’s encouraging that parents, carers and teachers are now having more conversations than ever before with children about online safety. Education and stronger regulation will also help children to embrace their digital independence while protecting them from the risks.”

Find out more
Read the report from Ofcom