The 24/7 generation: How much time your kids spend in the virtual world
An Ofcom study has revealed children's leisure habits are changing, with youths increasingly ditching the TV for the touchscreen tablet as online media consumption soars, reports Katie Wright.
As most parents will know, it's hard to tear children away from a screen. But we now know exactly how much time they're spending on their gadgets, thanks to an Ofcom study.
For its Digital Day research, the media regulator asked 359 children to complete a digital diary for three days, then contrasted the results with a sample of 1,644 adults.
The children were split into two age groups: 186 aged six to 11, and 173 aged 11 to 15. The diary recorded any media they used, including TV, radio, games, phone calls, texting, browsing and reading magazines and books. It also measured concurrent use, so people playing on their iPad while watching TV were captured, too.
The results show that, by multi-tasking, primary school-age children pack an average of five-and-a-half hours' activity into five hours a day. By secondary level, it jumps to nine-and-a-half hours in a seven-hour span.
As you would expect, games are big for kids, with 20% of media time spent playing them, compared to 5% for adults.
So far, so predictable. But one stat shows that while the "watching" category is pretty consistent across all groups, up to 50% of total time - how the watching is done - varies a lot.
The most popular method is live TV, followed by recorded shows. But there's a spike when it comes to short online videos, with 11 to 15-year-olds spending nearly 33 minutes a day watching these, and adults five minutes. Similarly, live radio is more relevant for grown-ups, dropping from 71% of listening time for adults to 21% for 11-15s.
The latter also spend far more time on music streaming apps.
The study paints a picture of children moving away from traditional TV to a varied digital diet. The findings chime with comments by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that, within a decade, the majority of his site's content will be in video form.
Zuckerberg isn't alone. It's a widely-held belief that, in future, video will dominate the online landscape, and Ofcom's research supports that. The way things are going, the results of the Digital Day survey will probably be released solely on YouTube, with PDFs a distant memory of a simpler time.