United Kingdom

25% of UK’s three- and four-year-olds possess a smartphone, data reveals

A quarter of children aged three and four own a smartphone in the UK, and half of those under 13 are on social media, the Guardian reported in an article today.

The data, from the communications regulator Ofcom, reveal high and rising rates of online activity by children of infant-school age, with 38% of five- to seven-year-olds using social media, compared with 30% a year ago, and 76% of them using a tablet.

Growing evidence shows the impact of widespread social media use on children, with experts warning of the “profound risk” to their mental health.

As a consequence, the number of children and adolescents dealing with depression and anxiety has risen almost 30% in recent years.

Ofcom’s annual study of children’s online behavior found that the percentage of 5- to 7-year-olds sending messages or making voice and video calls increased from 59% to 65% in the past year, the article added.

It said that, overall, 96% of children aged 3-17 go online, with the majority of the 4% still offline being aged 3 or 4. Even among the youngest children surveyed, 84% use the internet.

It also mentioned that younger children typically use a tablet, while older children aged 12-15 are more likely to have their own smartphone, with over 95% having one.

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