1 in 3 children has a tablet computer

For the first time, the number of kids using a PC or laptop to access the internet has fallen as tablets such as Apple’s iPad become the gadget of choice for children using broadband.

One in three children in the UK now has a tablet computer of their own, almost twice as many as a year ago, according to communications regulator Ofcom.

A report published this week claims 34% of children aged 5-15 have a tablet - like an Apple iPad, Hudl or Samsung Galaxy Tab - of their own, as opposed to using a tablet belonging to a parent or their school, up from 19% in 2013.

Overall, 62% of kids now use tablets at home, an increase from 42% last year, while the proportion of youngsters using a PC or laptop to access the internet - 88% - has declined for the first time since records began.

It also found 11% of pre-school children aged 3-4 have a tablet of their own, a pretty significant increase from only 3% a year ago.

Ofcom said: "There has been a considerable increase in access to, ownership of and use of tablet computers by children of all ages. In contrast, the incidence of TVs and games consoles in the bedroom is declining, while smartphone ownership remains steady."

The report also highlights a number of differences between boys and girls in terms of how they use their tablets, and how closely parents supervise them online.

"Gender differences are evident from an early age. Differences include a preference for gaming among boys and for communication online among girls. Parents also treat boys and girls differently, monitoring some aspects of girls' online activity more closely than boys'."

Keeping children safe online is as big a responsibility, and challenge, as it's always been, but there are now more tools at your disposal than ever to help you do this, with all the main UK broadband providers supplying free parental controls with their packages.

The best protection is a 'network-level' filter, like those provided by TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin Media and BT, as it doesn't just apply to a single computer. Instead, they cover every device - tablets, PCs, smartphones and consoles - that connect to the broadband wirelessly.

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