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PRESS RELEASE: Kids under-12 feel “sad” without internet connection

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Intersperience survey reveals strong emotional dependency on technology

• 49% of kids under 12 would be “sad” without the internet

• 70% of teenagers chat on Facebook

• Two year olds dominate the family iPad

• Children perform more daily tasks online than adults

London, UK, 30 January 2012 – Young children in the UK have a powerful emotional connection to the internet with 49% of under-12s reporting that they would be “sad” without it while one in five would be “lonely”, according to a new study by international consumer research specialist Intersperience.

The findings emerged from the ‘Digital Futures’ project, which surveyed 1,000 young people in the UK between the ages of eight and 18 on the impact of online and digital technology in their lives.It uncovered radical differences between the ways children and adults relate to the internet with under 18s primarily valuing it for social and entertainment purposes and older teens particularly keen on mobile internet.

The study found that teenagers are even more emotionally bound to the internet than either primary school age children or adults, with 60% reporting that they would be “sad” if they could not connect to the internet, while 48% (more than double the proportion of under 12s) said they would be lonely.

Teenagers are the heaviest users of mobile devices, particularly smartphones, and their number one online activity is chatting to friends - more than 70% of teenagers said they chat on Facebook. However, they are still keen on real-life conversation as more than half like to talk to friends face-to-face, compared to 35% who like to talk to friends online.

Intersperience Chief Executive Paul Hudson said: “The fact that children have a strong emotional attachment to the internet is often regarded as a negative thing but in fact it is perfectly natural for a generation whose social life is largely online. It’s equivalent to taking a phone away from older people, they’d feel sad and lonely too.”

Under 12s emerged as sophisticated internet users with 74% playing online games, 65% using the internet for homework and more than one-third going online to look for things to buy or sell. In a cost-conscious climate, young teens are also using it to check prices for clothes or other fashion items.

Children are also smart about backing up data, with kids as young as eight using hard drives and teens storing information in ‘the cloud’. Young people are also well-informed about online security and discerning about releasing personal data, with one-third unwilling to give their details to organisations online while 22% said they give false ID information.

Even toddlers have acquired a high level of skill with internet-enabled devices according to parents who said their two-year olds are the most likely to dominate the family iPad. Toddlers easily master touch screen technology to access games or stories independently.

Paul Hudson said: “Our Digital Futures project is one of the most comprehensive studies undertaken in the UK on how children interact with the digital world. It shows that even very young children are skilled multi-channel communicators who view the internet as an ever-present virtual playground. However they also have a surprisingly good grasp of complex issues like online security and e-commerce.”

He added: “We matched the results against our Digital Selves research on adult behaviour and it shows that even eight to 11 years olds perform a wider daily range of tasks online than grown-ups. Adults may be concerned about the strong emotional connection kids have to the internet today but our study shows that far from losing the art of conversation, children still prefer chatting to their friends in person.”

As featured in the Telegraph article on 30 January 2012 -  British children feel 'sad' without internet connection


Media Contact: Valerie Darroch 07970 737708 E:

About Intersperience:

Intersperience is an international consumer research specialist with expertise in consumer behaviour, experience and attitudes. The team, which is headquartered in Cumbria, has more than 25 years experience in analysing consumer behaviour. It employs a range of interpretative models and frameworks including a proprietary online research platform. Intersperience has significant global expertise and an international research hub at Lancaster University which conducts research in more than 60 languages as well as associates in major global markets. Intersperience is an expert in how technology impacts on consumer behaviour and multi-channel customer service strategy. Clients include:The British Council; General Motors; Iceland; Samsung; ScottishPower; and William Hill.

About the Intersperience Digital Futures research project:

Intersperience conducted a wide-ranging survey among 1,000 young people in the UK between the ages of eight and 18 on how they use the internet and internet-enabled devices. Participants mirrored the general UK population in terms of social class and of the total group, 35% were aged between eight and 11, 37% were aged 12 to 14, and the remainder were aged 15 to 17. In addition, the team carried out qualitative research among 15 families with children aged from two to 18 which included participation in family tasks such as video diaries, communication logs and mood diaries. Researchers also carried out 23 in-depth family interviews including 11 face-to-face interviews with under 18s. Field research was carried out between July and August 2011.

For more information:

Tel: + 44 (0) 15395 65450

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