SYDNEY: Today's teenagers are likely to have been allowed exposure to the internet at the age of nine or ten but in the future children may start as young as two according to a new report.

The Australian eGeneration Report from research Nielsen looked at how Australian children and teens (aged 2-15 years) use and consider media, its role in their lives, and their rapid rate of adoption of connected devices during the past seven years.

That children and teens are spending more time online than they used to is not a revelation, but it is still a surprise to find that younger Australian teenagers are spending the equivalent of three full school days online every week.

Those aged 13 to 15 were online for an average of 18.7 hours every week, the report said. When younger age groups were factored in, time spent online dropped to 11.5 hours a week, or almost two school days.

The post-school, pre-dinner period was the most popular time to go online during the week – 81% of children and teens did so after school and before 6pm. At weekends, 73% were going online at some point during the day between 9am and 6pm.

The youngest children, those aged two to nine, are most likely to have their first online experience with tablets (seven in ten households own tablets). As they get older, between ten and 12, they move on to using laptop and desktop computers as well (nine in ten households own laptops).

By the time they reach their teens, laptops are still used but mobile phones have assumed much greater importance.

"Understanding which platform to engage different youth segments will help reach the right audience," said Lillian Zrim, Nielsen's associate director of marketing effectiveness, cross platform custom insights.

"Digital media is a great way to start a conversation with today's youth," she told Marketing. "How marketers connect, educate and engage this consumer now is vital for their future."

The increased availability of relevant content is another factor driving younger consumers online, and the report highlighted their use of apps to access this material.

Data sourced from Nielsen, Marketing; additional content by Warc staff