Many young people in the UK spend as much time watching YouTube as they do traditional television. The reason is simple: YouTube speaks to their lives, and television doesn’t.
Children viewing habits
Today, technology is reaching children at ever-younger ages. This is one of the findings from a new report published by the UK’s Ofcom entitled “Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2018.”
Almost a fifth of UK children between 3 and 4-years-old have a tablet computer and use it to go online. Around half of these children spend nearly 9 hours a week online, only slightly less than the 14 hours they spend watching TV on a TV set.
In older age groups, traditional TV viewing time remains about the same as the 3-to-4-year-old kids. However, online viewing increases dramatically, especially for children in their teenage years.
For UK kids 12-to-15-years-old, the shift toward online viewing is nearly total. 83% have a smartphone with over half of them using it to ‘mostly go online.’ TV viewing remains around 13 ¼ hours a week. Additionally, 2/3 of them are watching TV programs via OTT services.
Though traditional TV viewing is nearly ubiquitous among the young, the amount they watch is in decline. Compared with last year, TV viewing by this demographic has gone down by at least an hour, and about two hours since 2016. So where has this viewing time gone?
The data shows the missing TV time has switched to online sources. Now for the first time, 8–to-11-year-old kids are spending more time on the internet than watching TV on a TV set. However, what exactly are these kids watching?
Kids love YouTube
According to the Ofcom report, the content that children and teenagers watch online looks diverse. For instance, when using OTT services, no more than 1-in-10 of UK 5–15-year-olds indicated a single program, box set, film or another type of content as a favorite. That means that no one show or movie is capturing the attention of most people.
Despite the variety of video consumed, there is one platform that dominates the viewing. YouTube usage has increased in all age groups year-over-year and now surpass television as the dominant video platform.
45% of UK children aged between 3-and-4 use YouTube. 80% of this group say they use it to watch cartoons while 40% say funny and prank videos. The number of young teenagers (ages 12 – 15) using YouTube is almost double the 3-to-4-year-olds. However, the type of video they watch is slightly different, with 74% saying they use it to watch funny videos or music videos. Children’s interest in music, funny, and prank videos is no real surprises, but what is interesting is how they are watching them.
UK 8-to-11-year-olds now prefer to watch YouTube on their TV sets (49% in 2017) versus TV on a TV set (40%.) This increase means that 8-11s and 12-15s prefer to watch YouTube on their TV set than actual television. Only 14% of 8-11s and 16% of 12-15s prefer to watch television on their TV set. Traditional TV broadcasts are no longer the most popular things to watch on television! Why is YouTube captivating the young?
YouTube has what kids want
Traditional television no longer speaks to the lives of most children. Many kids play video games, hang out with their friends, and document their daily life. YouTube embodies this lifestyle. There are channels dedicated to gaming, and many people document their lives on social media in the form of ‘vlogs.’ With a wide array of relevant content available, it’s no wonder young people turn to YouTube over television. However, there are other reasons.
The young are drawn to content that is created for them by people their age. Many viewers describe feeling a connection with the creators they watch. It encourages them to express themselves and try creating content of their own.
Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Musical.ly, and others occupy the time of young people. However, only one seems to be replacing television; YouTube.
Why it matters
Children of all ages in the UK still watch traditional television.
They also watch online video, and the older they are the more online video they consume.
YouTube is by far the most popular video platform among UK children.
YouTube has content that speaks more directly to their lives than television.