A new report from the regulator Ofcom, Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, shows children aged 5 to 15 are spending around 15 hours a week online, greater than the amount spent watching TV. Meanwhile, weekly viewing has dropped from 14 hours 48 minutes in 2015 to 13 hours 36 minutes in the last year.
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.”
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. Pre-school children also enjoy YouTube, but will pick TV-like content such as cartoons and mini-movies.
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.
In their pre-to-early teenage years, children prefer smartphones to tablets. The proportion of children owning one is up from 35% to 41% in the last year. One in three tweens (8-11s), and eight in 10 older children (12-15s) now have their own smartphone.
However, despite the rise in electronic devices, 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%).