Generative AI Usage Soars Among British Youth

Nearly 80% of British teenagers use generative AI, with Snapchat's My AI and ChatGPT being the most popular among young users.

What is the rate of generative AI usage among UK teenagers?

In a significant shift, nearly 80% of British teenagers have embraced generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools, indicating a rapid uptake of this evolving technology among younger internet users. A recent Ofcom report reveals that 79% of those aged 13 to 17, and roughly 40% of children between 7 and 12, have utilized AI for both educational and leisure activities. This contrasts with less than a third of adults who have explored AI technologies.

The study highlights Snapchat’s My AI as the most favored generative AI tool among children and teens, particularly teenage girls. For internet users over 16, ChatGPT emerges as the most widely used AI service. Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s strategy and research group director, acknowledges the natural inclination of Generation Z towards new technology, while also expressing awareness of the risks associated with AI.

My AI image, Snap
Snapchat's My AI has often been criticized (Image: Snap)

AI Regulation And Online Safety

The topic of AI regulation was recently addressed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at an AI summit, where 28 countries, including major players like the US, China, and India, established agreement on collaborative AI development. Sunak, however, has expressed caution against hasty regulation of the sector.

Ofcom notes that certain AI tools may be subject to upcoming online safety laws, focusing on how companies assess and mitigate safety risks to protect users from potential harms.

Changing Digital Habits In The UK

The report also sheds light on broader digital trends in the UK. People are spending more time online, averaging three hours and 41 minutes daily, an increase from the previous year. Young adults (18-24 years) log the most screen time, averaging over four hours daily.

In a notable shift, YouTube has overtaken Facebook as the UK's most frequented website, with 91% of adult users visiting YouTube and 90.7% visiting Facebook. Meta-owned apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram continue to dominate smartphone usage among adults.

Other Key Findings

The study also reveals that over 10% of adults have used dating services, with the figure rising to one in five among those aged 25 to 34. Around a third of adult internet users have accessed pornographic content, predominantly during the day, with male users constituting the majority.

Two-thirds of adults report encountering online harms, such as scams, fraud, phishing, and offensive content, often through personalized feeds. This highlights the growing concerns around online safety and the impact of digital habits on diverse user groups.

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