Children and media: usage and attitudes

Children and media: usage and attitudes

Ofcom has published a report on the media use, access, attitudes and understanding amongst children aged 3 – 15, and how parents manage this usage. The report revealed that whilst TV sets and tablets were used the most, TV viewing on a TV set is steadily declining, with consuming content becoming a more solitary activity and mobile viewing becoming increasingly popular. The reduction in TV viewing has been replaced for 3-4 year olds by spending an additional hour online, or gaming for 12-15s.

Nearly one in five 3-4 year olds have their own tablet, a figure that steadily increases with age until half of 12-15s own a tablet and 83% a smartphone. Over two thirds of 3-4 year olds use a tablet mostly to go online, whereas for 12-15s mobile access becomes the more popular option.

Online gaming reveals the biggest gender disparities with girls aged 12-15 spending just over 9 hours a week gaming and boys of the same age closer to 17 hours.

As children get older, parents feel less able to control their child’s screen time – up from 19% of 3-4 years to 44% of parents of 12-15s. A third of 12.15s themselves felt that it was hard to control their own screen time. Parents are also increasingly feeling that ‘the benefits of the internet for my child’ do not outweigh the risks, with the biggest concern being ‘companies collecting information about what their child is doing online’.

Online safety remains a concern, however, even where awareness of content filters existed, half of parents opted not to use them.