Teenage girls are the UK’s texting champions, sending more than 220 a week – a third more than boys – according to new research.
Telecoms and media regulator Ofcom’s annual Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report also found that on average 12- to 15-year-olds have never met 25% of their Facebook friends.
The regulator’s latest research revealed that 12- to 15-year-olds on average spend 17 hours a week on the internet, matching TV viewing for the first time, and that potentially well over a third of three- and four-year-olds use the internet for TV and games.
“Children are not just using more media, they are also adopting some forms [of it] at a very young age,” said Claudio Pollack, consumer group director at Ofcom.
The report found that texting is most popular among 12- to 15-year-olds, who send an average of almost 200 texts a week, more than double the 91 that Ofcom’s report found last year.
Girls aged 12 to 15 are the most prolific texters, sending an average of 221 messages a week, 35% more than their male counterparts. This is more than four times the UK average of 50 texts per week.
There has been a 50% rise in smartphone ownership among this group year on year, with almost two thirds of 12- to 15-year-olds now owning one, according to Ofcom.
“Areas such as texting and smartphone ownership [among teenagers] are fast outstripping the general population,” said Pollack. “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.”
More than 40% of five- to 15-year-olds who have internet access have a social networking profile, rising to 80% among 12- to 15-year-olds.
The latter age group has an average of 286 online friends and 93% of them claim they are confident they know about online safety.
Almost 80% of parents claim that they have rules about their children’s internet usage, although less than half have parental controls installed on their home computers.
[Texting teens via Shutterstock]