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Study Reveals One-Quarter of UK Children Aged 5 to 7 Own Smartphones

According to a study conducted by the UK communications regulator, approximately 25% of British children between the ages of five and seven now possess a smartphone.

The findings come at a time when some parents are pushing back against the trend of granting younger children access to such devices.

Research carried out by Ofcom revealed that despite the requirement for users to be at least 13 years old, 38% of children in this age group are actively using social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

The study also noted a rise in the number of children in the same age range watching live-streamed content, increasing from 39% to around 50%.

Ofcom highlighted a significant increase in parental concerns, yet noted a diminishing enforcement of rules.

The report suggests that adults may feel resigned to their limited ability to intervene in their children’s online lives. Science Minister Michelle Donelan described the findings as “stark.”

In October of last year, the UK parliament passed online safety legislation with the aim of cracking down on harmful content, including online child sexual abuse.

Donelan emphasized that children as young as five should not have access to social media, and the Online Safety Act will ensure that companies enforce age limits or face substantial fines.

The study follows a notable reaction from UK parents after an Instagram post by Daisy Greenwell went viral earlier this year. Greenwell expressed her horror upon discovering that her 11-year-old son owned a smartphone, as did a third of his classmates.

The post sparked immediate concern among thousands of parents who shared fears about potential risks such as predators, online bullying, social pressure, and exposure to harmful content.

This led to the launch of the Parents United for a Smartphone Free Childhood campaign.

Jonathan Haidt, a US author whose recent book “The Anxious Generation” discusses the impact of smartphones on children’s brains, has urged parents to unite in addressing smartphone access for kids.

Haidt advocates for no smartphones before the age of 14 and avoiding social media until 16.

He emphasizes the collective effort of parents, stating that if even half of them act together, it becomes much easier to protect their children from the pressures associated with owning such devices.

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