Podcasts are becoming a bigger part of kids’ lives, and listening to them with their families is a steadily entrenching habit, according to a new study from Kids Listen.
The nonprofit org’s Kids Podcasts in the Age of Screens report is based on 1,000 online surveys conducted last fall with US adults who have at least one child under the age of 18. It’s the third research initiative that Kids Listen has embarked on to track and understand the listening habits of families.
According to the report, 70% of adults listen to kids podcasts with their children at least three times a week, and 48% do so daily. Families that include kids ages two to five are the most likely to listen to podcasts. And Asian families are the most frequent listeners by ethnicity, although 59% of BIPOC families tune in to podcasts almost daily.
Podcasts are becoming an important part of family life because everyone can listen together while doing other things, like driving to school or getting settled in for bedtime, says Sanden Totten, research lead at Kids Listen and senior editor at APM Studios. “We see that co-listening is very high, and when you do something as a family, it starts to feel like a tradition or routine,” he says.
Families prefer listening to podcasts on Apple Podcasts (40%) and Spotify (33%) over video-sharing platforms like YouTube (8%), according to the report. The optimal episode length for this co-listening audience is between 20 and 30 minutes, but that tends to change as kids grow up. Families say their favorite podcasts tell stories (55%), have science themes (51%) or explore history (31%).
Kids like to engage with the same content in other media as well—so when they listen to science podcasts, for example, there’s a good chance they’ll then go online to search for related videos.
The report also notes that podcasts remain important in an educational context. About 29% of educators use podcasts in the classroom, and 65% recommend their students listen to other podcasts outside of school hours. And about 50% of adults with school-age kids say they pay for two or more podcast subscriptions to support what their kids are learning in school.
Producers should remember that just because parents’ interest in podcasts has trickled down to their children, kids’ listening habits are unique. In its previous two reports—The Inaugural Survey (2017) and Understanding the Kids & Family Audience (2020)—Kids Listen pointed out that while adults listen to an episode once, kids will listen to their favorites more than 10 times. The nonprofit also found that kids initiate conversations with their families based on what they’ve learned in the podcasts, and sometimes even reenact parts of episodes.
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