Study notes: YouTube dominates online time, but Discord makes gains

Childwise finds that when kids aren't watching videos on YouTube, they're playing Minecraft and Roblox, or spending time on TiKTok and Discord.
February 17, 2022

This week, Kidscreen is digging into the annual “2022 Childwise Monitor Report,” which tracks media habits, usage and attitudes among kids in the UK. We’ll be exploring some key findings that indicate what kinds of content young viewers may be looking for in the year ahead. Yesterday we tackled what kids are watching, and today we check in on which apps they like best.

Only a few years ago, children might have listed a bike, teddy or toy among their favorite things. But these days, a phone is almost certain to top the list, according to new findings from UK researcher Childwise.

Its annual report clearly shows that while kids’ interest in game consoles and tablets seems to be waning, their love for mobile phones is increasing. And when they’re using these devices, they’re most likely on YouTube.

Childwise’s study found that children ages seven to 16 spent an average of 3.3 hours a day online in 2021, down from 3.8 hours the year before. A good portion of that time was spent on YouTube, to the tune of 1.8 hours a day on average. But that figure was also down from 2.3 hours in 2020.

Time spent on chat platform Discord, however, was up significantly this year. This measurement increased by 24% year over year—unsurprising, given that virtual communication continued to dominate daily life in 2021 as pandemic restrictions ebbed and flowed. But it’s worth noting that boys (32%) were more likely than girls (15%) to use Discord.

TikTok usage stayed steady, with 57% of five- to 16-year-olds reporting they used the social net, and two in five kids saying they did so every day. The app was more popular with older children—a third of 11- to 16-year-olds used it last year, compared to 12% of seven- to 10-year-olds. Girls (60%) are more likely to use the app than boys (50%), and daily usage followed the same pattern, with 48% of girls and 34% of boys hitting the platform every day.

TikTok usage also rises sharply with age. Only 10% of five- to eight-year-olds used the app last year, compared to more than half of 11- to 12-year-olds. And measuring all TikTok users ages seven to 16 in the survey sample, they’re spending an average of more than two and a half hours a day on the platform.

On the gaming front, Minecraft was the most popular option for all ages surveyed, with usage up 1% year over year to 40%. Roblox engagement dipped slightly to 38%, from 42% in 2020. And one in three respondents said they played Fortnite or Among Us regularly. Other popular social apps lagged behind, with only one in four children surveyed saying they regularly use Snapchat, Facetime or Whatsapp.


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