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The percentage of children aged 5 to 7 equipped with a smartphone is staggering

© Unsplash/Ludovic Toinel

More exposure of children to screens than ever before. This is what we can learn from this new study carried out by Ofcom, the regulatory authority for telecommunications in the United Kingdom.

Alarming figures

The British organization found in its annual research that the percentage of children aged five to seven who use messaging services such as WhatsApp increased from 59 to 65%. Same trend for social networks (most are prohibited for those under 13): 38%, an increase of eight points in one year. The same goes for live streaming and online games: +11 and +6 points compared to last year.

Quoted by BBC News Mark Bunting, from Ofcom's online safety group, hopes this will serve as a shock: “I think this is a wake-up call for the industry. They need to consider the users they have, not the users their terms and conditions say they have…60~/em>.

As far as the parents are concerned, he is a little more accommodating: “It may not be about ;#8217;totally prevent children under 13 from using the internet, which seems very difficult to me in today's society. But parents can talk to their children about using these services safely. And we encourage them to do so”.

As for the parents who spoke with our colleagues, several arguments are put forward to justify the fact that they entrust a smartphone to their children. Some mention security reasons (being able to contact and follow them at any time). Others point to social pressure and confide that it is difficult to refuse a telephone to their sons or daughters who could find themselves excluded.

And in France  ?

In any case, there is an urgent need to act. The effects of prolonged exposure to screens from a very young age have already been highlighted by numerous studies. To cite just one example, we told you about this research by Japanese scientists on one-year-old babies. It turns out that those who spent more than four hours of screen time per day showed delays in areas of communication and problem solving at ages 2 and 4.

Awareness is required in France, even if the results are not yet up to par. Remember that the government has, for example, decided to ban smartphones in schools and colleges. The concrete effects of this measure remain to be seen.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116