By Maximilian Clarke

Teens say they would miss their mobiles and the internet more than TV, Ofcom research shows; the first time internet use has been considered more important than television by teenagers.

Television use, however, has continued to increase: in 2007, children aged 4-15 watched 15.5 hours of TV a week, compared to 17.5 in 2010. Over the same period, numbers with internet access increased to 95% from 89%.

Children are also becoming more aware of potential risks, Ofcom’s research suggests, with 12 per cent of 8-11s with a social networking profile saying they talk to people not directly known to them, down from 22 per cent in 2010.

Parents are generally very confident that their children are aware of internet safety and the vast majority of children aged 8-15 feel that they know how to stay safe online and that they are confident internet users. However with increasing use of media, there remain some safety issues.

A fifth of all 12-15 year-olds said they’d had a negative mobile or online experience in the past year, with gossip being spread being the most common issue. Girls are more likely to know someone who has had gossip spread about them. A quarter of teenagers say that they know someone who has been bullied through their mobile phone, rising to 30 per cent of teenage girls.

“The almost universal use of the internet at home by 12-15s — both for their education as well as their entertainment — is a positive step forward,” commented Ofcom’s Chief Executive, Ed Richards.

“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.”

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