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Ofcom: Choice, Control and Community Lead Kids to YouTube


Children in the U.K. spend about two hours online in a typical day, 20 minutes more than they spend in front of a TV set, Ofcom says in a new study.

In 2018, British kids between the ages of 5 and 15 had an average of 2 hours 11 minutes of online time per day, the same figure as 2017. Daily TV time, however, fell from about two hours to 1 hour and 52 minutes. The primary online destination is YouTube, with about 80 percent of respondents having used the platform. In terms of SVOD, almost 50 percent of kids and 32 percent of preschoolers watch services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.

The study found that children overwhelmingly preferred watching YouTube and Netflix to any other platforms. However, live TV is still a factor, largely as family time. “Live TV viewing was often convened by parents, allowing the family to come together to watch soaps, quizzes or ‘appointment viewing’ such as Strictly Come Dancing or The X Factor,” Ofcom says. “Some children used live TV to fill time, often while they were doing something else such as eating dinner.”

In terms of why kids prefer digital platforms, the study group cited instant control over what they are watching, personalized content and recommendations.

YouTube viewing falls into three categories, Ofcom notes: hobbies and passions, vloggers/YouTubers and shared communities, and “sensory videos” that generate feelings of well-being and relaxation.

Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, said, “Children have told us in their own words why online content captures most of their attention. These insights can help inform parents and policymakers as they consider the role of the internet in children’s lives. This research also sheds light on the challenge for U.K. broadcasters in competing for kids’ attention. But it’s clear that children today still value original TV programs that reflect their lives, and those primetime TV moments which remain integral to family life.”

About Mansha Daswani

Mansha Daswani is the editor and associate publisher of World Screen. She can be reached on


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