Children in the online frenzy | TechBuzz

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A current Bitkom study examined the use of smartphones and tablets by children and young people in Germany. One result: Even the youngest are surfing the Internet more and more often.

The numbers are impressive, but also give food for thought: Almost all children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18 (98 percent) now use a smartphone or tablet. Even the youngest between 6 and 9 years (95 percent) use at least one of these two devices. This is the result of a current Bitkom study, for which more than 900 children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18 were interviewed. According to the industry association, the information is based on self-declaration by the children and young people, with the younger ones in the presence of their parents.

With these or other devices, Germany’s children and young people aged 6 and over spend an average of almost two hours (111 minutes) online every day. Online time increases sharply with age: 6- to 9-year-olds spend an average of 49 minutes a day on the Internet, while 10- to 12-year-olds spend an hour and 27 minutes online. Young people aged 13 and over already spend more than two hours on the Internet: 2 hours and 20 minutes for 13 to 15 year olds and 2 hours and 46 minutes for 16 to 18 year olds.

“Children and young people grow up with smartphones and the Internet as a matter of course,” says Bitkom CEO Bernhard Rohleder. “They must be accompanied and instructed at an early stage so that they can act confidently and independently in the digital world.”

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Small tablet and smartphone owners

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Another finding of the study: Many children and young people have their own device at an early age: 36 percent of 6 to 9 year olds state that they own a tablet, from the age of 10 it is more than half. Overall, every second person between the ages of 6 and 18 owns a tablet. Smartphone ownership also increases rapidly with age: While 21 percent of 6 to 9 year olds own their own mobile phone, the figure is 86 percent among 10 to 12 year olds and 95 percent among 13 to 15 year olds .

A long-term comparison shows how much the smartphone and tablet affinity among young people has increased: in 2014, only 20 percent of 6 to 7-year-olds used a smartphone from time to time; the current figure is 64 percent. Among 10 to 11-year-olds, the proportion of users increased from 57 percent in 2014 to 87 percent in 2022. Mobile phone use is also more pronounced today among 16- to 18-year-olds, rising from 88 percent in 2014 another nine percentage points to 97 percent.

Messenger and streaming services are particularly popular

Children and young people between the ages of 10 and 18 prefer to spend their time online chatting or video streaming. 8 out of 10 children and young people send chat messages at least occasionally (86 percent) and watch films, series and the like (83 percent) online. 71 percent listen to the radio or music and 69 percent are looking for information about school or training. 6 out of 10 play online games (61 percent). 4 out of 10 children and young people aged 10 and over find out about current political, economic or social news (38 percent). About a quarter shop online (23 percent).The great popularity of videos and streaming is reflected in platform use: the video portal YouTube dominates across all age groups. 82 percent of 10 to 18 year olds use the website or the app at least occasionally. Instagram follows at a great distance. Just over half (54 percent) are active on this social platform – but usage increases sharply with age: while only 17 percent of 10 to 12 year olds spend time on Instagram, it is among 13 to 15 year olds -year-olds already 60 percent and 84 percent among 16- to 18-year-olds.

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Not in the mood for Facebook

TikTok, on the other hand, loses interest with age. Almost two thirds of 13 to 15 year olds (63 percent) use the video platform, but only half (52 percent) of older people between 16 and 18 years of age. Interest in Facebook and Twitter is significantly lower: only 12 percent of 10 to 18 year olds use Twitter and 11 percent use Facebook. From 3 percent and 4 percent respectively among 10-12 year olds, the figures for 16-18 year olds increase to 21 percent for Twitter and 17 percent for Facebook.

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The top dog WhatsApp dominates the short message services and messenger apps. Here, 82 percent of 10 to 18-year-olds often send text, image or voice messages, and another 10 percent sometimes. Snapchat follows at a clear distance, about which 52 percent exchange information frequently or sometimes. About one in four people in this age group still uses the iPhone-based iMessage service at least sometimes, and one in five uses Skype. Other services such as Facebook Messenger (12 percent) or Telegram (8 percent) are used by very few.

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