Children’s Media Literacy: Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes Report 2018

posted on 06 February, 2019   (public)

Report reveals shift in media habits towards individual viewing via Netflix and YouTube as children increasingly own their own devices 

On 28 January 2019, Ofcom published its Annual Report on Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes. It provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15, as well as about the media access and use of young children aged 3-4.
The report also includes findings relating to parents’ views about their children’s media use, and the ways that parents seek – or decide not – to monitor or limit use of different types of media.

Key findings include inter alia the following:

  • TV sets and tablets dominate device use but time spent watching TV on a TV set is decreasing.
  • The viewing landscape is complex, with half of 5-15s watching OTT television services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV (the VOD service of Sky UK).
  • YouTube is becoming the viewing platform of choice, with rising popularity particularly among 8-11s. Within this, vloggers are an important source of content and creativity.
  • Online gaming is increasingly popular; three-quarters of 5-15s who play games, do so online.
  • Social media can bring a combination of social pressures and positive influences.
  • TV and social media are important sources of news, but many have concerns over the accuracy and trustworthiness of news on social media.
  • A majority of online 12-15s think critically about Websites they visit, but only a third correctly understand search engine advertising.
  • Children are still being exposed to unwanted experiences online, but almost all recall being taught how to use the internet safety.
  • There has been an increase of 12-15s and their parents saying that controlling screen time has become harder.
  • Parental concerns about the internet are rising, although parents are, in some areas, becoming less likely to moderate their child’s activities.

This research was published alongside “Life on the small screen: what children are watching and why” report. This qualitative study explores what video content children are watching online, how they reach it and why they choose it. Among its conclusions is that:

  • children love being able to find whatever they wanted, whenever they like. As YouTube responds to demand, it can offer a seemingly limitless choice of content. They like Netflix for similar reasons: it offers instant availability of content and vast choice.
  • In contrast, children think of PSB VOD platforms as catch-up services for their live TV counterparts, as opposed to platforms through which they can find a wide range of new and relevant content. They perceive them as offering less choice of content, and believe that content is not available over the longer term. While some children watch PSB-originated content on OTT platforms, they don’t realise or notice that it’s from a particular channel, and so don’t consider using that channel’s VOD platform as a destination to find further content.
  • 2018 Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes
  • Life on the small screen: what children are watching and why

Source: Ofcom Website

Additional EPRA Background: Children’s media literacy in the digital age, with a particular focus on new advertising formats, was extensively dealt with on the occasion of the 46th EPRA Meeting in Vienna. In 2018 EPRA continued its work in the field with a Media Literacy Taskforce which met twice. In 2019 Media Literacy will remain a priority for EPRA with a permanent Working group allowing for a continuation of the fruitful work conducted until now.