More than one in four of teenagers would miss their mobile phone more than television for the first time, according to the latest statistics from telecoms regulator Ofcom.
The Children and parents: media use and attitudes 2011 report revealed that 28% of 12-15 year olds would miss their mobile phones and 25% would miss the internet compared to just 18% who claim that they would miss television.
The survey also revealed social networking to be one of the main driving forces behind increased internet addiction amongst 12-15 year-olds. Almost three out of 10 seven to 11-year-olds (28%) and a staggering 75 % of 12 to 15-year-olds are signed up to a social networking site.
As smartphone ownership increases amongst teenagers, more and more children are now using their smartphones to access social networking sites. According to the survey, the number of 12-15 year-olds visiting social networking sites like Facebook weekly using their mobiles has grown from 33% in 2010 to 50% this year.
The study also brought attention to the online safety risks that still exist for children. One in five of the children interviewed admitted to having a negative mobile or online experience in the past year, most commonly involving gossip being spread.
However, it is evident that parental supervision had also increased with 54% of parents of five to 15-year-olds saying that they supervise their child when they're online compared to 48 % in 2010. Another 39% of parents said they use online parental controls to protect their children.
Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said: ‘The almost universal use of the internet at home by 12-15-year-olds – both for their education as well as their entertainment – is a positive step forward.
‘The research also shows that parents and children are increasingly aware of how to be safe when using the internet. But risks do remain. Better understanding – amongst parents as well as their children – is key to helping people to manage content and communications, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of media use while protecting themselves from the potential risks.’
Meanwhile, despite being branded as less important than mobile phones and internet by 12-15 year-olds, television viewing continues to increase, with five to seven year-olds watching it the most. In 2010 children aged between four and 15 watched an average of 17 hours and 34 minutes of TV per week, compared with the 15 hours and 37 minutes viewed in 2007.