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.

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.

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.

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.

USwitch telecoms spokesman Ernest Doku said: "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.

"Once the gadget of choice for high-flyers and tech fans, the price of an entry-level tablet is now under £100, making them an attractive and affordable piece of kit for the whole family.

"They can also make lessons, homework and bedtime stories both fun and interactive, so it's little wonder that more British parents are caving into demands from their tech-savvy children.

"Most tablet-owning parents will probably find their tots commandeer their touchscreen devices anyway.

"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."

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