Pupils online: National survey of 19,000 UK pupils reveals new trends in children’s internet use


The results of a national pupil survey on internet use will be released on 30 January 2017 ahead of Safer Internet Day, taking data from 60 schools and 19,000 pupils

  • Primary-aged pupils are more frequently using tablets and smartphones to access the internet
  • With greater access to the internet, concerns have been raised around the content that is accessible by young children, and how this can be combatted effectively


Catshill Learning Partnerships, along with education technology association, Naace, have announced that the results from a national survey of pupils’ internet use at home, will be released on 30 January ahead of this year’s Safer Internet Day on 7 February.

The survey, which involved over 60 schools and over 19,000 pupils from across the UK, asked questions about the devices young people are using to get online. As expected, the results show that children of all ages are using a wide range of devices, but the figures for very young children surprisingly revealed that over 60 per cent of four to five-year-olds are using tablets to get online. The tablet is the online device of choice for primary children, but for secondary school-aged children, the smartphone is the most popular choice.

Key figures from the study show that:

  • Nearly half of four to seven-year-old children surveyed say they are using a smartphone to get online
  • 66 per cent of Year 7 pupils and 89 per cent of Year 10 pupils use a smartphone, which is the most popular method of accessing the internet
  • Over half of six-year-olds use a laptop to get online
  • Games consoles are used mostly by 10 and 11-year-olds with three main platforms (Xbox, Playstation and Wii) being popular
  • A wide range of other connected devices were being used at home. The most popular devices in the ‘Internet of Things’ category were other consoles such as the Nintendo DS, heating controls, smart meters and portable media devices. Smart fridges and kettles were mentioned but less common.

Edtech and online safety consultant, Brett Laniosh, from Catshill Learning Partnerships said, “We now know that children are using a wide range of technology to get online at home, but the findings for younger children will surprise many. The fact that so many four and five-year-olds are using smartphones and tablets to access what could be unfiltered content is of concern and one that is echoed by the Children’s Commissioners report “Growing up Digital” released earlier this month.

“We would encourage schools to find out what devices their pupils are using at home and then compare their results with the national average.” Brett added, “I would also encourage schools to heed the advice of the Children’s Commissioner and establish Digital Leaders in school to get young people involved with the delivery of online safety education. For parents, it is vital to speak with your children to find out what hardware they have access to and which ones are being used to access online content. The discussion should also cover whether they are being used appropriately, for example protecting personal privacy and spending an appropriate amount of time using them.”

Mark Chambers, Naace CEO, said, “Naace members like Brett are deeply engaged at a local level with schools and their communities. We would do well to take heed of this survey’s finding, add it to the finding of BESA that teachers feel insufficiently trained and make it a national priority to both educate and protect our young people as they become the next generation of (digital!) citizens”.

Brett Laniosh and the team from Naace will be at Bett 2017 this week on stand G135 to discuss the results of the survey during the show, which takes place from 25 to 28 January at ExCel London.