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Tech savvy children the new 'early adopters' of gadgets

Almost a fifth of parents (16%) believe their under 16-year-olds are "addicted" to gadgets, while more than a quarter (26%) say their children would feel lost without them.

The term 'early adopters' now has a whole new meaning, with today's kids knowing their way around the latest tech before they're out of nappies.

But parents really do need to keep tabs on what their children get up to online and lay out some ground rules or risk having to cover the cost of bills racked up by in-app purchases, particularly in seemingly 'free-to-play' games.

– USwitch telecoms spokesman

Almost three-quarters of parents (71%) limit the hours their children spend using technology.The study also revealed that more than one in 10 children (12%) have racked up unexpected bills by making in-app purchases on tablets and smartphones.

Quarter of British children under eight have a tablet

More than a quarter of British children under eight-years-old have tablet computers, a survey suggests. The poll for uSwitch.com found 27% of under-eights have one of the gadgets, while 17% were aged between two and three when they first learned to use a touch screen and 10% were under two.

More than quarter British children under eight have tablet computer. Credit: Jan Haas/DPA/Press Association Images

Some 84% of parents bought technology for their children last year, spending an average of £462 each or £5.6 billion collectively, the study found.

The majority of the spending - £3.2 billion - was on gadgets for Christmas.

And more than a third of parents (36%) expect to spend more on gadgets for their children this year, with 91% saying their children already own at least one games console.

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iPad potty-training seat named worst toy of year

A baby toilet training seat with a built in iPad holder has been named the worst toy of the year.

A baby toilet training seat with a built in iPad holder has been named the worst toy of the year. Credit: CTA

The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood described CTA Digital's iPotty as "the worst of the worst" in its round-up of 2013's commercially-driven toys.

"Members are appalled by the escalating push to insinuate screens into every aspect of young children’s lives," the US charity wrote on its website.

Fisher-Price's iPad Apptivity Seat, Newborn-to-Toddler.
Fisher-Price's iPad Apptivity Seat, Newborn-to-Toddler. Credit: Fisher Price/CTA

Long-established toy company Fisher-Price also came under fire from the group for its iPad Apptivity Seat, aimed at "Newborn-to-Toddler".

"Because screens can be mesmerising and babies are strapped down and “safely" restrained, it encourages parents to leave infants all alone with an iPad," the group said. "To make matters worse, Fisher-Price is marketing the Apptivity Seat - and claiming it’s educational - for newborns."

Fisher-Price, which is owned by toys giant Mattel, could not be reached for comment.

Apple to unveil new iPads

People lined up for the Apple event at the Yerba Buena centre in San Francisco Credit: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Apple has kicked off a product event at which the company is expected to introduce slimmer, faster iPads in time for the holidays.

The new tablets will face stiff competition, with Microsoft Corp, Nokia and Amazon.com Inc all plugging rival devices in coming months.

Apple, which jumpstarted the tablet computing market in 2010 with the first iPad, has already come under increasing pressure from cheaper devices from Amazon's Kindle Fire to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Note.

Apple expected to announce iPad 5 and iPad mini 2

The first iPad mini, above, was released in October 2012. Credit: Reuters

Technology giant Apple is expected to release a new iPad today but has kept tight-lipped about the details.

The iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 devices are thought to be due for an unveiling.

Experts say they expect the iPad mini 2 will contain a better camera and a retina display, and could trigger the customary pre-Christmas technology rush.

There are also suggestions it could feature a fingerprint scanner, similar to the one used on the iPhone 5S, launched last month.

October 2012: Apple unveils iPad mini

How to turn off in-app purchases

Screenshot of iPad settings Credit: ITV News

The online games app industry has been warned by the Office of Fair Trading of "potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices" that could target "susceptible" children to pay to continue playing 'free' web and app-based games.

Read our guide to switching off in-app purchases on your iPad, Google Android and Amazon Kindle Fire devices

Read more: 'Pay to play' games warning

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Tesco 'planning tablet computer' to rival Kindle

A Tesco tablet could rival Amazon's Kindle Fire (pictured). Credit: Reuters

Tesco is reportedly planning its own tablet computer this year to win back book and DVD sales from technology giants Apple and Amazon.

Priced at around £100 to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire, the tablet is expected to come pre-loaded with content and apps including Tesco's new movie, music and e-book subscription service Blinkbox.

Tesco declined to comment on the report in the Times newspaper.

The supermarket has been looking to reinvigorate its business since annual profits fell for the first time in decades in April, while it was recently forced to scrap a high-profile expansion in the US.

Consumer watchdog investigates 'free' games apps

The Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation into games on phones and tablets that are free to download, but could end up costing parents hundreds - even thousands - of pounds.

It follows concerns that children could be tricked into spending money on upgrades without realising the cost.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:

Click here to find out how to turn off in-app purchases on your device.

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