Why today's generation uses the cell phone too often

Young, digital and always online: For Generation Z, mobile first applies

  • Internet consumption has tripled in three years
  • More than a third of 6- to 7-year-olds already use a smartphone
  • Bitkom presents the study "Children & Youth in the Digital World"

Berlin, May 16, 2017 - The smartphone is always with you, emojis and video snippets are the new phone calls and YouTube stars are the biggest idols: Children and young people in Germany are online ever earlier, longer and more mobile. While in 2014 39 percent of 6- to 7-year-olds stated that they use the Internet at least occasionally, today it is around half (48 percent). The time spent on the Internet also increased by leaps and bounds during this period, from 11 minutes in 2014 to 39 minutes a day today. The development is similar for 8 to 9 year olds. Here the values ​​of internet users increased to 81 (2014: 76) percent. The time spent on the Internet has almost tripled within three years from 16 minutes back then to 43 minutes today. Much more often than three years ago, children and young people use smartphones and tablets, often even their own. While three years ago only 20 percent of 6- to 7-year-olds used a smartphone or cell phone, it is now 38 percent, and tablet use has even increased from 28 to 64 percent. 67 percent of 10 to 11 year-olds (2014: 50 percent) have their own smartphone, and from 12 years the device is standard equipment for almost all young people. Overall, 87 percent of children aged 10 and over have their own smartphone (2014: 79 percent), while the figure for tablets is 33 percent (2014: 17 percent). “The media and internet consumption of children and young people is becoming more and more mobile. "Going" on the Internet is completely alien to the children of today, they are "always on" - no matter where and no matter when, "said Bitkom Vice President Achim Berg when presenting the study, for the 926 children and adolescents aged 6 and over up to the age of 18 were surveyed. “Generation Y has grown into the emerging digital world. Generation Z is now the first age group to grow up with digital technologies from childhood. "

The smartphone is already used by the youngest as a mobile all-rounder. 88 percent use it for phone calls, followed by listening to music (83 percent), messenger (82 percent), cameras and the Internet (78 percent each) and other applications (61 percent). More than one in two (51 percent) say that they can no longer imagine life without a cell phone. However, the smartphone is apparently also a reason for discussion in every fourth family. For example, 26 percent of smartphone users between the ages of 10 and 18 say that there are often arguments at home because the cell phone is being used too much.

In contrast to smartphones, stationary and bulky devices such as computers and laptops are becoming increasingly unpopular, as are devices without internet access. For example, only 32 percent have their own television set (2014: 41 percent). Smart TV is becoming more and more popular: in 2014, 7 percent had a smart TV, today 29 percent of children and young people already have an Internet-enabled television. However, mobile surfing is increasingly popular on the Internet. While in 2014 46 percent used their stationary PC to access the Internet, today it is only 35 percent. The popularity of the laptop for surfing fell from 65 to 49 percent over the same period. In contrast, tablets and smartphones rose by 19 and 12 percentage points to 48 and 77 percent, respectively.

WhatsApp dominates social networks and messengers across all age groups: 72 percent of 10 to 11 year olds already use the chat service. In the case of older adolescents aged 14 and over, it is almost everyone (96 percent). The popularity of other networks also increases significantly with age. About every second 10 to 11 year old (51 percent) and three quarters of all 16 to 18 year old (76 percent) use YouTube at least occasionally. The high popularity of social networks is also reflected in the fact that more than one in three (36 percent) says that their own favorite star is a YouTube star. This means that the so-called social influencers are more popular than idols from the classic areas of sports (23 percent) and acting (18 percent). "Generation Z" creates its own idols. Social media stars like Sami Slimani and Dagi Bee fascinate teenagers and have an audience of millions, ”says Berg. Companies have now also recognized this. Internet stars are increasingly appearing in traditional marketing, for example in TV commercials and magazine ads. "More and more parents hear their children's career aspirations: YouTube star."

Not only does the phenomenon of social media stars benefit from the young people's “always on”, streaming providers such as Spotify or Deezer are also enjoying popularity. In 2014, 59 percent of the young generation listened to music online, now it is 66 percent. This means that listening to classical music from CDs only has a minimal lead of 2 percentage points over music streaming. In the video sector, streaming has already overtaken DVD and Blue-Ray.

Children and adolescents view their Internet activities in a very reflective manner. 62 percent state that they pay attention to what personal information about themselves they put online. 54 percent also say that they pay attention to what information, for example photos or comments, is visible about them on the Internet. “Most young people are careful with personal information on the Internet. The parents' active influence also contributes to this, ”said Berg. Six out of ten of the children and adolescents surveyed say that their parents ask them not to reveal too much private information. Parents also explain to almost as many (57 percent) what is and what is not allowed on the Internet. Only one in ten says that their parents don't care what they do on the Internet. “Children in particular must not be left alone on the Internet. It is important that parents accompany and support their children right from the start by immersing themselves in this world with them, ”says Berg.

In addition, from Bitkom's point of view, imparting Internet skills should have a permanent place in the school curricula in order to provide orientation for children and parents. Numerous private and government initiatives offer further information and practical tips on everything from safe web surfing to free youth protection programs to immediate help in the event of acute bullying. Bitkom has put together an overview with the most important information for parents and further links here.

Methodological note: The information is based on a survey that Bitkom Research carried out on behalf of the Bitkom digital association. 926 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 18 were surveyed. The survey is representative. Bitkom Research and the market research institute Forsa were responsible for the implementation.