New research published today by Ofcom , the UK communications regulatory body, found that children aged between five and 15 are spending 15 hours a week on the Internet, up a whopping hour and 18 minutes compared with last year. YouTube is the favorite destination, with 73% of this group visiting the site regularly.
TV viewership within this group has fallen, from 14 hours and 48 minutes a week last year to 13 hours and 36 minutes per week this year. But 90% of all children still watch TV regularly, usually between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Three- and four-year-olds are also spending a substantial stretch of time online -- an average of 8 hours and 18 minutes a week. The research also found growing penetration of digital devices and usage among very young children: 55% of pre-schoolers used a tablet, with 16% owning their own (up 3% from last year).
Smartphones become more popular as children grow up; 33% of eight- to 11-year-olds have a smartphone, and 80% of 12- to 15-year-olds.
The research reinforces the belief that younger viewers are trending away from traditional TV consumption, and that while we are adjusting to Millennial cord-cutters, the next generation will likely be even more prone to shun TV services. However, user behavior does change with age, and the challenge of predicting changing TV viewing behavior across different life stages is not helped by this research.
Still, it does seem likely that even if cord-cutting behaviors moderate somewhat as viewers age, they are not going to match the TV viewing patterns of prior generations while in that age group. New generations will watch less TV than previous generations -- even though their video consumption across platforms will likely be greater. And that is something that operators need to accept as they plan for future network capacity.
It's also worth noting that reading hasn't died out entirely: Another study from Ofcom found that reading is still a popular activity among primary school children, rating higher than instant messaging, watching music videos and online video clips. The study found that about 20% of children between six and 11 read in the evenings.
The study also found that approximately two-thirds of parents of 12- to 15-year-olds believe their child has a "good balance" between digital and other activities.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation