British children are spending more time on the Internet than ever before and the average time they are online equals the time they spend in front of the TV screen, according to the latest report from telecoms regulator Ofcom.

The research focused on children´s media habits and the way they have changed over the past 12 months. Apparently, the biggest increase was detected in the number of text messages that children are sending, with girls aged between 12 and 15 the most prolific texters, sending 221 texts per week. Boys of the same age send 35% fewer messages, but still the average for teenagers comes in at 193, which is more than twice the average number for last year.

The sharp increase is largely due to the fact that two in three teenagers in this age group now own a smartphone, which represents a 50% rise from 2011. In addition, four in five teenagers have a profile on at least one social networking site and they have an average of 286 social media ´friends´.

Meanwhile, an average British teenager spends 17 hours per week online – just as much as they spend watching TV. Not only is online access occupying a larger part of kids´ time, but the age at which they start using digital devices is drastically falling. The latest data from Ofcom reveals that one in three preschoolers, aged three and four, use a laptop, a PC or a netbook. The same proportion of them have a TV in their bedroom and children this age watch TV for 15.5 hours per week on average.