The latest study from independent market research agency Childwise reveals that mobile phones are now the go-to multimedia gadget for five- to 16-year-olds in the UK. But as is usually the case with kids, it’s complicated. It turns out that one in four of them would actually like more time away from their smartphones.
According to the new 2017 Childwise Monitor Report, children for the first time are now more likely to access their mobile phones for constant entertainment (music, online access, gaming, video content and reading, after printed books) than for any other purpose, including texting or calling.
Among 2,000 kids surveyed in schools across the UK, ownership of smartphones is steadily increasing, particularly among primary-aged children. And the majority of kids say their use of technology helps them learn and develop new interests.
However, 23% say they have missed sleep and felt tired because they have spent too much time on their connected devices. In fact, the report found that children use the internet an average of three hours per day, and one in eight say they spend more than six hours online every day.
Children also check their smartphones 20 times a day on average, and 31% say they feel compelled to check every few minutes.
As for rule-breaking, a quarter of nine- to 16-year-olds turn off or get around safety controls when they go online, and a significant minority of tweens go online longer than they are allowed, or when they shouldn’t.
The increase in mobile phone usage comes as tablet ownership has reached a saturation point, with two in three children now owning one at home.
And children are now just as likely to watch content on their mobile phones as on a TV set.
Looking at the report’s other notable insights around children’s media consumption, purchasing and social habits, as well as key behavior, the study found that children choose social networking sites over texting for staying in touch with one another outside of school.
They also view YouTube as their go-to website for video content, ahead of second place favorite Snap. YouTube is also the most popular VOD service over second place Netflix.
The findings correlate with another recent study from youth and family research firm Smarty Pants, where YouTube was found to be the most-loved kids brand of 2016. (Netflix ranked 11th.)
YouTube, according to the latest Childwise Monitor Preschool Report, is also the preferred platform and app for on-demand video, while Netflix is the leading subscription-based service for preschoolers.