Almost half (49 percent) of UK children under 12 would feel sad if they didn't have access to the net, says Intersperience.

According to the Digital Future's report by the consumer research specialist, which surveyed 1,000 youngsters aged between eight and 18 about their online and digital lives, also revealed 60 percent of teens would experience the same emotion if they did not have a web connection. Furthermore, 48 percent claimed they'd also be lonely.

Seven in ten teens chat with friends on Facebook but more than half said they prefer to talk face-to-face.

The survey also revealed 74 percent of under 12s play games online, 65 percent utilise the net when completing their homework and a third also buy of sell items via the web. They're also clued up on security with a third admitting they don't give their personal details to firms when online with a further 22 percent claiming to give false information instead.

Intersperience also said toddlers tend dominate the iPad in the families where the tablet PC is owned, with many mastering touch screen technology independently.

"The fact that children have a strong emotional attachment to the internet is often regarded as a negative thing but in fact it is perfectly natural for a generation whose social life is largely online. It's equivalent to taking a phone away from older people, they'd feel sad and lonely too," said Intersperience Chief Executive Paul Hudson

"We matched the results against our Digital Selves research on adult behaviour and it shows that even eight to 11-years-olds perform a wider daily range of tasks online than grown-ups. Adults may be concerned about the strong emotional connection kids have to the internet today but our study shows that far from losing the art of conversation, children still prefer chatting to their friends in person."