Smartphones have become “integral” to children’s lives in Germany: survey

For many children in Germany, smart phones were “already part of everyday life at an early age,” according to a survey by the German digital association Bitkom, which was presented here on Tuesday.

Every second child in Germany between the ages of 6 and 7 “at least occasionally” used a smartphone, while 75 percent of children aged 10 and over already had their own device, according to the Bitkom study.

“Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of the everyday life of children and young people,” said Bitkom president Achim Berg.

Children and young people in Germany “should therefore learn at an early stage how to use the devices competently and how to navigate the internet safely” and parents needed to accompany their children “very attentively”, Berg emphasized.

According to Bitkom, media consumption on a smartphone was much more important to young people in Germany than telephoning.

Smartphones were very important to many young Germans, with more than half agreeing with that statement that “I can no longer imagine life without a mobile phone”.

At home, however, many young Germans also had to do without their cell phones, as mobile phones were banned at home “in certain situations” for two thirds of respondents.

Berg was critical of this, stating that “children also have a right to digital participation”. Nonetheless, Berg noted that “parents have the task of teaching their children how to use a smartphone responsibly. This also includes putting your mobile phone aside”.

The study found that, regardless of device, most children in Germany began using the internet at an early age. Of the 6 to 7 year olds, 40 percent already used the internet at least occasionally and by the age of 12, 97 percent were online.

Three out of four young internet users in Germany aged between 16 and 18 were active in social networks and researched information linked to school and education.

The German government and the federal states have been working on ideas to ensure schools are better equipped with digital technology.

Back in February, the parliament adopted the proposed “Digital Pact” which will see the federal states receive five billion euros (5.6 billion U.S. dollars) in government funding to equip schools with WiFi, computers and digital learning content.