How are kids watching content?

New research from The University of Sheffield, Dubit and BBC Children's finds tablets, YouTube and Netflix dominate kids' consumption habits, but traditional TV still plays a part in their media diets.
April 2, 2019

Tablets are taking control of the way kids consume content, with 91% of kids having access to tablets. And they’re  using those devices to watch YouTube, Hopster, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer according to a new report from kid research firm Dubit, BBC Children’s, and the University of Sheffield’s School of Education.

While tablets dominate, there is still a large contingent using TVs (79% have access to standard TVs and 74% to smart TVs) to consume SVODs like Netflix and traditional kidcasters like CBeebies. And in this case a rising tide might be lifting all ships, as 27% of those surveyed said they watched content on more than one platform at the same time.

Kidscreen is diving deep into the study entitled Social Media, Television and Children, which surveyed 3,154 children from birth to age 16 on their use of social media and television. Today we’re delving into the devices and platforms on which kids consume content.


Children have access to a wide range of technology at home and elsewhere (such as their grandparents’ home). Eight in 10 kids have access to standard televisions, 74% to smart TVs, 91% to tablets, 86% to smartphones, 75% to PC or laptops and 80% to game consoles.

Some niche options make an appearance too, with 35% saying they have access to a smart speaker, 32% an iPod or Portable MP, 25% a smart toy, and 26% VR equipment.

All in, 46% of kids surveyed have their own smartphone, while 57% have their own tablets, and older children are most likely to own one.




Kids also use each device in different ways, with 69% to 80% using TVs to watch CBeebies, CBBC, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, DisneyXD, Disney Junior, Boomerang, and Netflix. While, 58% watch YouTube on a tablet, and 29% to 34% watch BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hopster on the device. Four in 10 use a smartphone to watch YouTube, and 19% to 24% use the handheld device to watch Hopster and Amazon Prime Video.

Time Spent

In the great debate over how kids should be spending their screen time, Netflix and YouTube have taken a slight lead in the court of kid opinion. Those who were surveyed and said they use YouTube, spend an averageof one hour and 54 minutes per day during the week and two hours and five minutes on weekends—the most of any platform the report looked at. Netflix came in second at one hour and 43 minutes, and two hours and one minute, respectively. CBeebies, Amazon, CBBC, Disney Channel, DisneyXD, Cartoon Network, Disney Junior, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, BBC iPlayer and Boomerang followed.

There are nuances in consumption time based on age. Younger children, for instance, watch CBeebies longer than they do Netflix during the week (one hour 29 minutes vs. one hour 22 minutes), but this trend reverses on the weekend when kids watch Netflix for an average of seven minutes more than CBeebies. (The eight to 16-year-old set watch Netflix longer than CBBC on both weekdays and weekends.)


Once they’re on the platform, kids use each for difference purposes. Kids say they prefer to watch CBeebies, Disney Junior, Cartoon Network, DisneyXD, BBC iPlayer, Boomerang, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and CBBC for a short period of time. On the flip side, the places they prefer to consumer content for a long period of time are Netflix, YouTube, CBeebies, Amazon and BBC iPlayer. This fluctuates slightly within each age group.

Kids also list Hopster, Nick Jr., Boomerang, Nicktoons and Disney Channel as something they watch because a sibling is watching it, but true to form, kids don’t always know why they like what they do, saying they watch Boomerang, CBBC, Nicktoons, Nick Jr. and Disney Channel for “no specific reason.”

For the research, Dubit surveyed 3,154 families with children age zero to 16 across the UK. The group was 37.3% kids ages zero to seven and their parents, and 62.7% eight to 16 years-old and their parents. It was 43.5% female, 55.5% male, 0.4% non-conforming and 0.6% preferred not to answer. The ethnic makeup was 84.1% White, 4.9% mixed, 6% Asian or Asian-British, 3.2% Black or Black-British, and 1.9% Chinese or other ethnic group.

Every day this week we will be breaking down more research from the report, check back tomorrow for more insights.

About The Author
Alexandra Whyte is Kidscreen's News & Social Media Editor. Contact her at



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