New research published by price comparison service uSwitch.com shows that 27% of UK children have their own tablet device by the time they’re 8 years old. That’s almost 3.5 million children.
In fact, 10.7% of children were using touch-screen devices before they were 2 years old, with another 17.8% getting their first hands-on experience between their 2nd and 3rd birthdays.
The research also shows that 84% of parents bought technology for their children last year, spending an average £462 each. Most of that spending was for Christmas; £3.2 billion was spent on tech for youngsters during the festive season, with a total of £5.6 billion spent during 2013.
Games consoles are the tech product most likely to be owned by a child, with 91% of parents telling uSwitch that their children had one.
However, there still appeared to be a fair amount of parental control. 71% of parents limited the amount of time their children spent using technology. Just 16.3% reckoned their children were ‘addicted to their gadgets’ and only 12.3% said their children had ever run up a bill from using paid-for tablet or smartphone apps.
Ernest Doku of uSwitch.com said “The term ‘early adopters’ now has a whole new meaning, with today’s kids knowing their way around the latest tech before they’re out of nappies. But parents really do need to keep tabs on what their children get up to online, and lay out some ground rules, or risk having to cover the cost of bills racked up by in-app purchases – particularly in seemingly ‘free-to-play’ games. These can usually be disabled or placed behind a PIN within your device’s ‘settings’ menu, ensuring that little ones can enjoy a tablet without causing a big financial headache.”
The uSwitch research contacted 1,740 UK adults in December 2013.