Internet use has overtaken TV as kids’ top pastime according to latest Ofcom report

By Internet Matters Team on

Following the release of the latest Ofcom Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes report 2016, we’ve summarised the key findings it reveals.

Online use takes over

Ofcom latest report shows that children’s internet use has reached record highs, with young people aged 5-15 spending around 15 hours each week online – overtaking time spent watching a TV set for the first time.

Children aged 3-4, are also spending 8 hours and 18 minutes a week online, up an hour and a half from 6 hours 48 minutes in the last year.

TV viewing drops

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.

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.

YouTube is now top online destination for kids

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.

More children own their own devices

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

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.

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.”

Online safety awareness up

More than 9 in 10 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.

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%.

Additional information

Download Children and Parents Media Use Attributes Report 

If you’d like to learn more about other pieces on children and parents online use, please visit our research page.

 

Image attribution: Wayan Vota under Creative Commons License