Children and Parents – New Report on Media Use & Attitudes

Ofcom published today its 2012 Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes report, containing evidence about how children access media and parents monitor their use. For the first time, this report provides indicative information about children as young as 3 to 4 years of age.

Children use a wide range of media devices. Their internet access is not confined to the desktop PC, laptop or netbook. Kids aged from 12-15 are spending more time online. They are also more likely to use their mobile phone, to go online, the device they would miss more than any other. The evidence gathers indicated  more than 1 in 3 children aged from 3 to 4 years of age are using the internet. The findings indicate that 37% in this age group use the internet via a PC, laptop or netbook, 6% via a tablet computer, and 3% via a mobile phone.  And while a majority (97%) watch television on a TV set, 18% have used other devices to view television programmes: including 12% on a PC, laptop or netbook, 7% on a games console or player and 6% on a tablet computer. 11% have also used on demand services. The data also suggest that a third (33%) of 3-4 year-olds have a television in their bedroom and 53% use a DVR.

The trends have significant implications for media literacy education, and in terms of children protecting and sharing their own personal information online, particularly on social networking sites.

The report says that there are several new ways that children are consuming content, highlighting that:

  • Older children are spending more time online, and are more likely to go online alone
  • Children are going online via a wider range of devices
  • Media multi-tasking is popular, particularly among 12-15s
  • Smartphones are becoming more widespread and important to children
  • The use of tablets by children is growing.

It also looks more in-depth at the role of television, and keeping children safe.

The report is accompanied by several annexes, with additional research and analysis:

Parents Views on Parental Controls: findings of qualitative research – New qualitative research on parents’ use of, and attitudes to, parental controls on internet-enabled devices.
Childrens TV viewing: BARB analysis – Analysis of children’s television viewing habits sourced from BARB, the UK’s television measurement panel.
Websites visited by children: Nielsen analysis – KOM/Nielsen data on most-accessed websites by children aged 5-15.
Media Tracker Survey: Key Findings Among Parents – Data on parents’ views on programme standards and regulation from Ofcom’s 2011 Media Tracker survey.