The Swedes and the internet 2014

An annual study of the Swedish people's internet habits

7. Children and Youth

Today, more than half of two-year olds (57%) have started to use the internet.

Diagram 7.1. Ages where 50 percent of an age group has started to use the internet. Show as table Download

A quarter (26%) of two-year olds use the internet daily.

Diagram 7.2. Number of youth in different ages that use the internet sometimes and daily. Show as table Download

This is a completely new situation and completely different compared to when the internet was introduced and quickly spread to the population during the end of the 1990s. Then it was officials who were used to working with computers and young well-educated men who first took an interest in the new communication technology. The internet at that time was not for pre-school children and not for school children. It was among the young adolescents in families who got the internet that we found the youngest users. It was also at this time not until the 14-15 year-olds that more than half of an age group was starting to get familiar with the internet.

After the millennium, interest started spreading down through the ages and young people were sometimes more proficient at using the internet than their parents who were also beginners in using the internet. But as the young parents became more knowledgeable, at the same time as beginners were getting younger, the role for parents changed. They are now a driving force for children’s internet use up to ten years of age.

 

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Diagram 7.3. Number of children in different ages that used the internet in 2011 and 2014. Show as table Download

Half of two-year olds use the internet

Half of 2-year olds today occasionally use internet services. Already among 3-year olds, three in four are internet users and in 7-year olds the number is 90 percent. The largest increase the past few years has been among the youngest. In 2011, 49 percent of 3 year olds used the internet. Today that number is 75 percent. On the other hand, among 7-year olds, there were already 90% of users in 2011.

The biggest change in the last year has been that children’s use of the internet has become more frequent. In 2011, there were few daily users among pre-school children. Today, one in four between the ages of 2 to 3 years are daily users and a third in the ages of 4 to 6. In school age, the daily use increases rapidly from 45 percent among 7-year olds to 73 percent among 9-year olds.

 

Diagram 7.4. Number of children in different ages who used the internet sometimes in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

Diagram 7.5. Number of children in different ages who used the internet daily 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

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Diagram 7.8. Number of children and adolescents in different ages who daily use a tablet in 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

Major impact for tablets

When the tablet arrived, it was first just as popular among the younger children as with the older children. Icons to be touched made it possible to use without reading. This also applied to daily use, which in 2013 had only small differences between children from age 3 and up. Around 30 percent in all ages from 2 years old and up used the tablet daily in 2013. The past year, however, has seen a change; tablets have become widely distributed among school children and have become very popular. The result has been that over half are now daily users of tablets.

Diagram 7.9. Number of children ages 2-11 who use the internet daily and who daily use a tablet. Show as table Download

All daily internet users from ages 2 to 7 are also daily users of tablets. The tablet is not as frequently used by all over 9 years old where most use computers and smartphones daily.

Diagram 7.6. Number of children and adolescents in different ages that use a tablet sometimes and daily. Show as table Download


Diagram 7.7. Number of children and adolescents in different ages who sometimes use a tablet in 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

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Diagram 7.10. Number of families with children aged 12-15 who have different numbers of tablets. Show as table Download

More and more have their own tablets

Just like with computers, it was in the beginning most common to have one tablet in the family – which everyone has to gather around. Now, in the same way as the computer, it has become common to have several tablets in large families. Around half of families with children have more than one in the home. Many now even have their own tablet in the same way as people have their own computers and smartphones.

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Diagram 7.11. Number of internet users in different ages (2-11 years) who spend their time playing games and watching videos. Show as table Download

Games and video

The first activity that the youngest children engage in on the internet is watching film and video. Almost all (94%) in the ages of 2 to 3 who use the internet do this. Half (51%) try to play some type of game; entertaining, exciting, creative, educational and more. It is simple to start up an app on a tablet, it just needs to be pressed. The proportion of those who play increase with age, with up to 93% in the ages of 6-7 and well above 90 percent in adolescence. There is also the early possibility to create personal things on the internet, for example, drawing and painting, but this is not a widespread activity.

When children reach the ages of 6 to 7 and can start to read and write, the internet opens up with chat and possibilities to communicate with others, visit social networks, begin to search for information and facts, and use the internet for school work. However, gameplay and video viewing still occupy a large part of internet time well into the teen years.

For school children (8–9) games continue to dominate as well as watching videos. Communication via chat (25%), social networking (20%) and e-mail (20%) have not really gotten popular yet. More common is to use the internet to search for facts (62%), use the internet for school work (50%) and to create their own content (48%)

In the ages around 10–11 there is a leap into social networking and creating contacts on the internet. Two out of three (66%) chat and are now on social networks (63%). Meanwhile, about 80 percent of internet time is used to search for facts about school work and almost all play games and watch videos.

In the beginning of the teenage years (12–15) the internet’s social functions take up more of internet time, with the most using the internet also for information and entertainment. Almost all search for facts (82%), look up words (91%) and use the internet for school work (78%). The numbers who listen to music via the internet are even higher (92%), watching YouTube (99%), and being on social networks (93%). For teenagers, the internet is the most important source of both information and entertainment.

Diagram 7.12. Relationship between different internet activities in different ages up to 11 years. Show as table Download

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Diagram 7.13. Number of children in different ages who create their own content on the internet. Show as table Download

Creating your own content

The internet offers early opportunities to create your own content in the form of writing, drawing and building. The mobile camera gives the possibility to take your own pictures and record your own videos. Some of the youngest are testing these possibilities. The number of those on the internet creating their own content rises with age with more and more becoming daily users of the internet. Half of 10-year olds create something of their own on the internet at least once or several times a week. With writing comes new possibilities to express themselves.

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Diagram 7.15. Number of 10–11 year-olds who chat in 2014 compared to 2013. Show as table Download

Chat

Today there are many sites for the young to chat, for example, Kik, WhatsApp, and Snapchat, which is especially popular among those in the ages of 10 to 11 years old.

Diagram 7.14. Number of internet users in different age groups who chat. Show as table Download

Kik, which many of the young use, is built for the mobile web and is connected to a user name, not a mobile number. There, one can send not only text, but also pictures and video. One can add a profile with a photo, connect to Instagram, etc. There is constant development and integration of communication channels and social networks. During the past year, chatting has increased and taken a step down in age. Today it begins earlier than before.

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Diagram 7.16. Number of adolescents (12-15 years) who use a smartphone as their main connection via a mobile net or via network or a combination of both. Show as table Download

Smartphones are mostly used in wifi networks

To reduce the cost for users, a connection to a wifi network is needed, which means that much of the use of Kik takes place at home or in school. This also affects how the mobile phone is used. Over half (56%) of young people in the ages of 12-15 use their smartphones more over a wifi network than via the cellular network and only 13 percent use the cellular network more. This is because they often have a pre-paid mobile phone.

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Diagram 7.17. Number of children and adolescents in different ages who use the internet to search and check facts. Show as table Download

Finding and checking facts

School children learn early to check facts on the internet. In the beginning of the first school years, the difference between children is large. Around half of those ages 8 to 9 years old have discovered the possibility to check facts on the internet, while the other half have not. In the 10-year age group, eight out of ten do this sometimes, and two out of three do this at least once a week. The levels have not changed during the past year.

Diagram 7.18. Number of adolescents in different ages who use the internet to sometimes look up words, seek information about culture, science and health. Show as table Download

Just as common as checking facts or using the internet to look up words, is that many, especially the older youth, also use the internet to look up information on health and medical questions and take part in culture, science and literature. [diagram 7.18] If we compare this with earlier years, it is especially in terms of culture, science and literature where we see the biggest changes. Among those who are 12 to 15, 60 percent use the internet today to occasionally take part in culture, science and literature, which is an increase from 39 percent in 2012. Among the older youth (16-19) the increase is small, from 68 percent in 2012 to 70 percent today.

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Diagram 7.19. Number of adolescents 12–15 years and 16-19 years that use the internet in school daily and weekly 2009, 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

The internet in school

Today, almost all youth have access to the internet at home and in school and most use the internet at school at least once a week while two out of three (62%) do it daily. In three out of four schools there is access to a wifi network. During the last year, there have been changes and the tendency is that many more use the internet daily in school, from 53 percent of 12-15 year olds in 2013 to 62 percent in 2014. However, it is also common that one accesses the internet in school for private use. For a more thorough and detailed analysis, see Students and the internet, 2014. Students and the internet 2014.

Through the growing use of mobile phones and tablets, the time the youth devoted to the internet at home increased significantly, while the time devoted to the internet at school only rose marginally among the younger in the ages of 12-15. The increase seen earlier has leveled off.

Diagram 7.20. Average time (hours/week) that youth spend on the internet in school and at home 2009, 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

Similarly, the young people’s (12-15) assessment of the internet’s importance in schoolwork has not increased but rather decreased during the last year. In the older youth, in the ages of 16 to 19, this is not the case as time with the internet in school has increased during the past year and the internet is just as important for schoolwork as in private use.

Diagram 7.21. Number of students in the ages of 12-15 as well as 16-19 who believe the internet is important or very important in school work and for private life on a five-point scale during 2009, 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download

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Diagram 7.22. Number of those who are 12-15 years old who use the internet for schoolwork and private use with different frequency. Show as table Download

Just as common to access the internet for private use as for schoolwork

In many schools today, there is a wifi network and a third of students have their own computer in the school. If we look at what happens in schools, it is almost as common to use the internet for private use as for schoolwork. And in daily use, there are more using the internet for things other than schoolwork. Half of the students use the internet daily in school for private purposes and 35 percent use the internet daily for schoolwork.

This all means that one-third (32%) use the internet more often for schoolwork than for other things, 41 percent use the internet just as often for other things as they do for schoolwork, and a quarter of students (24%) use the internet more often for things other than schoolwork. The internet in school is thus much about the students’ personal use.

Diagram 7.23. Number of students (12-15 years) who use the internet in school more for school work, more for private, or the same for both. Show as table Download

We can now see that the use of the internet in school is increasing. There are two tendencies behind this. One is that the internet is increasingly used for schoolwork. The daily use has risen. At the same time the internet in school is also utilized for private use and that usage has also increased. For two out of three, private use is just as extensive as that relating to the school.

Diagram 7.24. Number of children and adolescents in different ages who use the internet to do school work. Show as table Download

Just as many use the internet for schoolwork as we have earlier seen using the internet to search and find facts on the internet. These activities are tied together. In the ages of 8-9, half of the children at some time use the possibilities the internet gives and a third do this at least once a week. Here there are large differences. A connection exists with the parents’ educational background so that 53 percent of the children of the well-educated (8-9) use the internet sometimes for schoolwork compared to 40 percent of children of others. However, this only explains a small part of the differences.

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Diagram 7.25. Number of internet users in the ages of 12-15 who use the internet in school for school work sometimes or daily. Show as table Download

Big changes during the last year

Already several years ago, most children in the ages of 12 to 15 were using the internet sometimes for schoolwork. The regular daily use, however, was limited. Here we can now see a change. The daily usage of the internet for schoolwork has increased from 10 percent to 35 percent. Every third child in school (12-15) now uses the internet daily for schoolwork.

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Diagram 7.26. Number of children and adolescents who visited Facebook in 2014. Show as table Download

More and younger on social networks

Half of 10-year olds (56%) today are connected with a social network and every fifth (20%) are there daily. Then the number of those who visit social networks rise with increasing age and almost all young people in the ages of 12 to 15 visit sometimes and 9 of 10 at least once a week. Three out of four (72%) do it daily. Adolescents (12-15) are also active participants. 79 percent post updates and 21 percent post daily.

If we go down in age, we find those who visit social networks already at the age of 7 and 8, which was not seen earlier. This large increase in the past year has been among schoolchildren in the ages of 9 to 11. Many more of them are now on social networks, but in the ages above, where most have already visited social networks, the levels have stayed around the same in recent years.

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Diagram 7.27. Number of internet users that sometimes and daily visit a social network or Facebook Show as table Download

Everyone is on Facebook

Facebook has long been the dominating social network that everyone is on, and so it is still with one exception: the ages of 12 to 15. Here, there are many alternative networks available and the numbers of visitors to social networks are larger than the numbers on Facebook, which means that all in this age that visit social networks do not necessarily visit Facebook

But Facebook is still the largest and 83 percent are on Facebook while 53 percent are there daily. No other network is as popular.

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Almost everyone is on Instagram

Almost as popular as Facebook among the young, especially young women, is Instagram. 78 percent of girls in the ages of 12-15 are there sometimes and 62 percent of boys. 62 percent of girls are there daily and almost half (45%) are there several times a day. Even those a little older (16-25) use Instagram daily – 60 percent of young women and 30 percent of young men. For the most part Instagram is not a competitor to Facebook (see Chapter 3, diagram 3.13), but in the ages of 12-15 it is a network that could compete with Facebook in daily use.

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Diagram 7.28. Number of school children in different ages that use e-mail. Show as table Download

Increased use of e-mail

The number of those who use e-mail daily has risen among adolescents during the past year. E-mail is not something unfamiliar to adolescents, and already in earlier years, most have used e-mail at some time, but it has not been especially frequent. Today, half (51%) of the younger adolescents (12-15) use e-mail at some time during the week and 25 percent do it daily, compared to 4 percent daily use in 2013. Virtually all older adolescents (16-19) are already familiar with e-mail and 46 percent use e-mail daily compared to 26 percent last year. This means that among adolescents, e-mail has become a thing of everyday use on the internet.

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