In November Ofcom published three reports exploring children’s media use in 2016:
- Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, our annual quantitative research with families across the UK, exploring the use, understanding of and attitudes towards media among children aged 3-15, and how parents are managing children’s media use.
- Children’s Media Lives 2016, the third year of our qualitative research, following the same 18 children every year to provide nuanced, in-depth insight into the role of in their day-to-day lives; and
- Children’s Digital Day, a diary study with primary and secondary school children, charting children’s media use across the day.
A few of the key findings from the research include:
- Children are becoming more critically aware in some areas, 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 a 10 percentage point increase in the number of 12-15s who are aware of product endorsement from vloggers, to 57% in 2016. But, many children still need help to identify advertising on Google with only a minority of 8-11s (24%) and 12-15s (38%) correctly recognising sponsored links.
- Children’s internet use has reached record highs, with youngsters aged 5-15 spending around 15 hours each week online – the equivalent of two whole school days – up an hour and 18 minutes since 2015. 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 28 minutes in the last year. In contrast, children are spending less time watching a TV set, with 5-15s weekly viewing dropping from 14 hours 48 minutes in 2015 to 13 hours 36 minutes in the last year.
- Digital devices are more widespread among children than ever, including the very young. A third (34%) of pre-schoolers (aged 3-4) own their own media device – such as a tablet or games console. More than half of this age group (55%) use a tablet, and 16% own their own – up from just 3% in 2013. As children reach pre-to-early teenage years, they prefer smartphones to tablets – with the proportion of 5-15 year olds owning a smartphone up from 35% to 41% in the last year. The numbers increase with age, with one in three 8-11s and eight in ten 12-15s now having their own smartphone.
- A third of 12-15s who use the internet say they have seen hate speech in the past year (34%). Fewer than one in ten (7%) say they ‘often’ see this, with the remaining 27% saying they ‘sometimes’ see this.
- In 2016 a similar number of 8-11s (11%) and 12-15s (13%) said they had been bullied in the past 12 months. For 8-11s bullying in person (6%) is more likely than via social media (2%) or group chat or text messages (1%), while for 12-15s levels of bullying are the same across all three of these at 6%.
- More than nine in ten children aged 8-15 who go online 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 than last year 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 who go online are more likely to use network level filters in 2016 – up five percentage points to 31%.
- For 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.
Press Release from Ofcom
Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.