New data from Childwise shows that preschoolers are using connected devices more than ever, and they’re not relying on their parents to discover content.
The market research firm’s “2020 Childwise Preschool Report” has found that more than 75% of under-fives have access to a connected device like a tablet, phone, laptop, desktop computer or smart speaker. And half of preschoolers have their own connected device, a stat that increases to 60% for kids ages three to four.
Half of the parents surveyed said their preschooler discovers content on their own, an 8% increase compared to last year. In fact, 60% of three- to four-year-olds are confident in opening the apps they want to use, and a similar number of them can adjust volume controls without help.
These numbers are in stark contrast to the industry’s long-held belief that parents are largely responsible for content discovery when it comes to younger kids.
“Preschool children quickly develop a sense of their own preferences and interests,” says Childwise associate research director Jenny Ehren. “Parents have always played a huge role in curating what [under-fives] consume and how their time is spent, but toddlers are now confidently navigating digital platforms for themselves, and using touchscreen devices with purpose and determination.”
That’s not to say co-viewing is a thing of the past. The Childwise data shows that shared activities increased during the pandemic, with half of parents reporting they were more likely to watch content, do crafts, bake or spend time with their kids on a tablet during lockdown. In fact, 75% of respondents said they spent more time together as a family in general in 2020.
Tablets are the go-to digital device for preschoolers, with under-fives using them nearly nine hours a week on average. This marks an increase of more than an hour over the 2019 average. The number-one kid activity on tablets is watching videos, followed by playing games.
Half of preschoolers watch content that is mostly or fully on-demand, compared to just a third of nine- to 10-year-olds. Under-fives watched three hours of video content a day on average in 2020, up by almost 30 minutes over the previous year. Netflix was the most popular SVOD for preschool content, followed by Disney+ and YouTube Kids.
When it comes to gaming, Childwise found that more than 25% of preschoolers have access to a game console at home. Super Mario, Minecraft and Roblox were the top gaming brands with these users.
Last year’s increase in access to connected devices coincided with kids generally spending more time in front of screens than ever before. The “2021 Childwise Monitor Report” has revealed a significant spike in time spent online during the pandemic, with kids using platforms like YouTube and TikTok to cope. The biggest increase was among 11- to 12-year-olds, who are now spending 4.2 hours a day online.
The “2020 Childwise Preschool Report” surveyed more than 1,000 parents of children under five in September 2020.