Tween TV viewing time falling

With kids flocking to YouTube, only 33% of eight to 12s say they watch a lot of TV, down from 45% four years ago.
October 29, 2019

Watching content on a TV set appears to be falling out of favor among tweens. The number of eight- to 12-years-olds in the US who say they watch a lot of TV has dropped to 33%, from 45% over the past four years, according to nonprofit org Common Sense Media’s new study. In the Common Sense Census, the age group confesses to consuming 25 minutes less TV on a set than they did four years ago.

As kids’ enjoyment of watching TV wanes, there’s been a rise in digital viewing since 2015 (the last time the study was conducted). Today, streaming videos online is the most common thing for tweens to do on their devices. The percentage of the cohort who say they watch online videos every day has more than doubled since 2015 (reaching 56%, up from 24%), according to Common Sense.

YouTube is the top platform where eight to 12s go to watch content with 76% of the cohort saying they use the site, which is intended for users 13 and older, while only 23% say they watch the kids-safe version. More than half of tweens (53%) say the Google streamer is the site they watch the most, compared to 7% for YouTube Kids. Due to its continued popularity with the younger set, YouTube has been dealing with a number of issues over the past year, including having to pay a record US$170 million to settle allegations that it illegally collected personal information from children without parental consent, according to the FTC.

When it comes to screen time, regardless of platform, tweens spend the majority of it (53%) watching videos. An additional 31% of time is spent on gaming. The rest is split between social media (4%), browsing websites (5%), content creation (2%), reading (2%), video chatting (2%), and other (2%). These categories are virtually unchanged since 2015, according to Common Sense.

The study also found that kids are viewers first and spend very little time creating their own content. Just one in 10 kids say they enjoy making digital art, graphics (10%), music (4%), coding (4%), designing their own video games (4%) and “other” (which includes video creation—at 2%).

In the gaming realm, there’s a market for companies looking to target girl gamers, with 20% saying they enjoy gaming a lot, and 35% enjoy mobile gaming. However, there continues to be a large gender gap in the time spent on console gaming, with 41% of boys saying they play video games on a console every day, compared to just 9% of girls. For girls the average time spent gaming a day is 47 minutes, compared to more than two hours for boys.

The Common Sense Census surveyed 1,677 US kids eight- to 18-years-old. It was conducted online among a separate sample of respondents from those surveyed in 2015. The full report can be found on the Common Sense website.

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at



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