Ofcom: U.K. Kids Spend More Time Online Than Watching TV Sets


LONDON: According to the Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes report from communications regulator Ofcom, online has overtaken television as the top media pastime for children in the U.K.

Internet use is higher than ever, with U.K. kids aged 5 to 15 spending around 15 hours each week online. This amount is up an hour and 18 minutes in the last year and surpasses the time spent watching a TV set for the first time. Even preschoolers (3 to 4) are spending more than eight hours a week online, up an hour and a half from just under seven hours in the last year. U.K. children are spending less time watching a TV set, with weekly viewing down from 14 hours 48 minutes in 2015 to 13 hours 36 minutes in the last year.

YouTube is one of the most popular online destinations for youngsters to consume content, with around 73 percent of 5- to 15-year-olds using the steaming site. For preschoolers, 37 percent are regularly watching YouTube videos, typically choosing ‘TV content’ such as cartoons and mini-movies. Older kids are starting to prefer YouTube, with four in ten 8 to 11s and 12 to 15s saying they like watching YouTube more than the TV set.

However, Ofcom’s research shows that television is still important in children’s lives, with nine in ten still watching, generally every day, and the largest number watching at peak family viewing time, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Jane Rumble, Ofcom’s 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.”