Tablet use surges as YouTube and Minecraft dominate children’s media habits

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

A new survey has shown that children are spending more time on computers and tablets than they are watching television.

The 2015 Childwise Monitor is an annual report looking at children’s and young people’s media consumption.

2000 children aged 5-16 were surveyed and the results showed that tablet ownership among younger children has doubled in the last 12 months, with 1 in 3 children aged 5 to 7 having their own tablet.

“Tablets have become the technology of choice over computers, laptops and even games consoles, and removing the need for parents to consider a mobile phone,” explained Simon Leggett, research director at Childwise.

“Parents like tablets because they are controllable – a tablet can be taken away to reflect good or bad behaviour, in a way that is not possible with a TV or computer. Apps can be purchased as rewards, and with the growing use of tablets in primary schools there are strong perceived educational advantages.”

For older children, mobile phones are still the number one priority.

Online, YouTube has become the number one site for boys and girls. Only amongst older girls does Facebook retain its popularity and even then, it sits alongside Instagram and Snapchat.

“Past concerns about the risks of encountering unacceptable material on YouTube have largely disappeared, with parents of even the youngest children now happy to let them use it. In the same way that Google images superceded Google as the search portal of choice, YouTube has taken this a step further,” continued Leggett.

Elsewhere, Minecraft has also grown in popularity for both sexes. Not only do they play the game on computers and tablets, but they watch videos about it on YouTube and read about it in print manuals.

The growth in tablet usage and YouTube may prove particularly interesting in the wake of the BBC’s announcement to make BBC Three an online only channel. The corporation’s argument was that young people were changing the way they consume media and it appears that its next generation of viewers will grow up expecting to watch their media on a mobile device.

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