Kids spend more time online than watching TV
James R | On 26, Jan 2016
Kids now spend more time online than watching TV, according to landmark new research from Chidwise.
The findings show that, more than ever, young people are shunning old-fashioned television for the web, with Childwise heralding the findings as a “tipping point” in viewing behaviour. Now, children aged between 7 and 16 spend 3 hours per day online, compared to 2.1 hours watching TV, while those aged between 15 and 16 spend 4.8 hours online.
The annual report, which has been tracking kids’ behaviour since the mid-1990s, finds that time online is spent on a range of activities, from socialising and playing to stream video and music. The latter, though, has been key in driving a pronounced shift away from watching TV when it is broadcast: 38 per cent now do most of their TV viewing on-demand, with 60 per cent watching television via their phone, tablet or laptop. Ownership of tablet computers, meanwhile, has surged 50 per cent in the last year alone.
Among 15 to 16 year olds, under a quarter typically watch TV when it is scheduled. That shift in attitude has also impacted viewer loyalty to particular shows: 32 per cent of these older children had no favourite TV programme, with none of the programmes identified as favourites, such as Hollyoaks and Pretty Littles, seen by more than 2 per cent of all young people surveyed in the previous week.
With no real affiliation to any particular show, kids have also become more attached to streaming services over traditional channels: Netflix was more popular than any TV channel, with 50 per cent watching shows on the SVOD service, ahead of ITV 1 (47 per cent) and BBC One (46 per cent).
The dominant site overall, though, is YouTube, with almost half of all 5 to 16 year olds using the site every single day, often through mobile devices, to watch video clips or listen to music.
“Funny” videos were the most popular, although a third of childred said they watched “how to” videos, including how to play computer games.
YouTube is also a popular way of watching TV show, with almost three quarters (74 per cent) of young people using the site to do so, ahead of the 40 per cent who use BBC iPlayer.
Other popular sites include Snapchat, Instagram, Minecraft and Facebook.
Simon Leggett, Director of Research at Childwise, says that the survey finds show that “TV viewing has been redefined”.
“Growing access to the internet at any time and in any place, and a blurring of television content across channels and devices, brings a landmark change in behaviour this year,” he tells the BBC.
“Children are now seeking out the content of their choice. They still find traditional TV programmes engaging but are increasingly watching them online and on-demand or binge watching box sets.”
The findings occur as Sky vastly expands its catalogue of on-demand kids’ TV shows and as BBC Three prepares to reinvent itself as an online channel in February 2016 – a transformation that appears to be just in time to win over the new digital generation. For more information on the BBC Three switch, click here.