Online overtakes TV as kids’ top pastime

The internet has overtaken television as the top media pastime for the UK’s children.

Ofcom Report 2016
Ofcom’s report on Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, published recently, reveals that children’s internet use has reached record highs, with youngsters aged 5-15 spending around 15 hours each week online – overtaking time spent watching a TV set for the first time.



Even pre-schoolers, aged 3-4, are spending eight hours and 18 minutes a week online, up an hour and a half from six hours 48 minutes in the last year.

According to Ofcom’s data, children aged 5-15 have increased their weekly online time by an hour and 18 minutes in the last year to 15 hours.

In contrast, children are spending less time watching a TV set, with their weekly viewing dropping from 14 hours 48 minutes in 2015 to 13 hours 36 minutes in the last year.

YouTube is one of the most popular online destinations for children to watch content, with around three quarters (73%) of those aged 5-15 using the video site. It is also a hit with pre-schoolers with 37% regularly watching YouTube videos, who typically pick ‘TV content’ such as cartoons and mini-movies.

And older children are beginning to show a preference for YouTube with four in ten 8-11s and 12-15s saying they prefer watching YouTube than the TV set.

Despite this, Ofcom’s research shows that TV still plays an important role in children’s lives with nine in 10 still watching, generally every day, and the largest number of children watching at peak family viewing time, 6 – 9pm.

Digital childhood
Digital devices are more widespread among children than ever, including the very young. Today’s research finds that a third (34%) of pre-schoolers (aged 3-4) own their own media device – such as a tablet or games console.

Pre-schoolers typically enjoy digital entertainment on a tablet, with more than half (55%) using one, and 16% owning their own tablet – up from just 3% in 2013.

As children reach pre-to-early teenage years, they prefer smartphones to tablets – with the proportion of children owning one up from 35% to 41% in the last year. This means one in three tweens (8-11s), and eight in 10 older children (12-15s) now have their own smartphone.

As children spend more of their time online, their awareness of advertising and ‘vlogger’ endorsements has also increased with more than half of internet users aged 12-15 (55%) now aware that online advertising can be personalised - up 10 percentage points in the last year. And, 12-15s awareness of product endorsement from vloggers has also increased by 10 percentage points to 57% in 2016.

But, many children still need help to identify advertising on search engine Google with only a minority of 8-11s (24%) and 12-15s (38%) correctly recognising sponsored links.

Book at bedtime
Despite the importance of digital devices in children’s lives, Ofcom’s Digital Day research, also published recently, shows that reading is the third most popular activity with primary school aged children (62%) beating newer activities such as watching online video clips (47%), instant messaging (10%) and watching music videos (11%)5.

Staying safe online
More than nine in ten children aged 8-15 have had conversations with parents or teachers about being safe online, and would tell someone if they saw something they found worrying or nasty.

Parents of older children are most likely to be having these types of conversations with their children, with 92% of parents of 12-15s saying they have spoken to their child about online safety, an increase of six percentage points since 2015.

Nearly all parents (96%) of 5-15s manage their children’s internet use in some way – through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Two in five parents use all four approaches.

And, parents of children aged 5-15s are more likely to use network level filters in 2016 - up five percentage points to 31%7.

On the most part, families are in agreement that their child has a good balance between screen time and doing other activities. Most children aged 12-15 (64%), and parents of children of the same age (65%), believe this balance is about right.

Jane Rumble, Ofcom Director of Market Intelligence said: “Children’s lives are increasingly digital, with tablets and smartphones commanding more attention than ever. Even so, families are finding time for more traditional activities, such as watching TV together or reading a bedtime story.”

Click here to download the full Children and Parents: media use and attitudes report

Ofcom Online versus TV

Written by E-safety Support on November 24, 2016 10:35

Digital Natives lack online nous

Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial.


Ofcom Report 2015Ofcom's Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes report, published recently, reveals that children aged 8-15 are spending more than twice as much time online as they did a decade ago, reaching over 15 hours each week in 2015.

But even for children who have grown up with the internet - so-called digital natives - there's room to improve their digital know-how and understanding.

For example, children do not always question what they find online. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.

Nearly one in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is "all true" - doubling from 4% in 2014.

Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for "true and accurate" information about what's going on in the world. The video sharing site is the preferred choice for this kind of information among nearly one in ten (8%) online children, up from just 3% in 2014.

But only half of 12-15s (52%) who watch YouTube are aware that advertising is the main source of funding on the site, and less than half (47%) are aware that ‘vloggers' (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

James Thickett, Ofcom's Director of Research, said: "The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world."

Children's online lives

Children aged 12-15 were split about whether being online helped them be themselves, with around one third (34%) agreeing and a similar amount (35%) disagreeing. The remaining 31% were unsure whether being online helped them be themselves or not.

Most 12-15s (72%) believe that most people behave differently when they're online, with girls more likely to say this happens than boys (78% versus 67%).

More than two thirds (67%) of girls aged 12-15 with a social media account said there were things they dislike about social media. Nearly one in three (30%) were concerned about people spreading gossip or rumours and a quarter (23%) said people can be "nasty, mean or unkind to others".

This compared with just over half of boys aged 12-15 (52%) reporting things they dislike about social media.

Many children are also concerned about spending too much time on the internet. Around one in ten online children aged 8-15 (9%) say they dislike spending too much time online, and nearly one in three 12-15s (31%) admit they can sometimes spend too much time on social media in particular.

Parents' role in online safety

More than nine in ten parents of 8-15s (92%) manage their children's internet use in some way - either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Nearly four in ten parents (38%) use all four approaches.

Among the technical tools used by parents are network-level content filters offered by broadband providers. Almost six in ten parents of 8-15s (56%) are aware of these parental controls, up from 50% in 2014, and a quarter (26%) use them, up from 21% in 2014.

It appears that the vast majority of children do hear the advice given about staying safe online. Some 97% of children aged 8-15 recall advice they've been given, particularly from parents.

The large majority (84%) of children aged 8-15 also say they would tell their parents, another family member or a teacher if they saw something online they found worrying, nasty or offensive. However, 6% of children say they would not tell anyone.

Written by E-safety Support on December 03, 2015 12:49


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