Traditional activities remain popular among tech-savvy pre-schoolers

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A new report reveals that while under-fives are increasingly using internet enabled devices, arts and crafts and visiting the library continue to be popular activities.


The Childwise report reveals that pre-school children still enjoy traditional activities despite spending more time on digital devices

In its annual report, market research company Childwise finds that 75 per cent of pre-school aged children now have access to a tablet, phone, PC or laptop – up from 42 per cent four years ago.

It also shows that children are spending an increasing amount of their day watching television and online video content – nearly three hours an average. This compares to 2.4 hours in 2014 when Childwise began its annual survey.

This is the first time in nearly three years, the market research company has seen a real increase in the number of children with access to devices and the amount of time they spend on them.

Despite this, the report shows that arts and crafts, baking and visiting the library remain popular activities.

The annual Childwise Pre-School report is based on conversations with more than 1,000 parents of children up to the age of four about their children’s media use and parents’ spending habits.

Online content

According to Childwise, CBeebies remains the most popular TV channel and Peppa Pig the favourite programme for the sixth consecutive year.

However, subscription-based services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have gained in popularity.

This year for the first time, original YouTube content, predominantly nursery rhymes and educational videos, has appeared in the list of pre-schoolers’ favourite viewing material.

Almost half of all pre-school households now regularly access content via YouTube or YouTube Kids.

Traditional activities

The annual report finds that more than half of parents do arts and crafts with their children on a regular basis, an increase on last year, while a third of children bake cakes with their parents.

However, girls were more likely to be doing these activities than boys.

One in three parents said they frequently go to the library with their child, up from 29 per cent last year. The report finds that numbers increase steadily with age as children’s literacy skills grow.

The favourite book among pre-school children is The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, followed by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.


Parents of three- and four-year-olds were also asked about a range of skills, including those set out in the EYFS, plus a number of technical skills. Their answers revealed:

  • 84 per cent recognise different colours
  • 81 per cent can count up to 10
  • 53 per cent can get dressed/undressed themselves
  • 51 per cent can say the letters of the alphabet
  • 73 per cent can go to the toilet alone
  • 38 per cent know how to write their own name.

Childwise research manager Jenny Ehren said, ‘The increasing use of connected devices by pre-schoolers this year may reflect growing access to on-demand services, especially subscription-based options such as Netflix which has quickly risen through the ranks over the last three to four years.

‘Their list of favourite programmes is becoming more varied, and whilst many are drawn from across the different pre-school channels, we are beginning to see more references to content exclusively available on YouTube and paid for streaming services.’

  • The 2018 Childwise Pre-school Report is available to purchase here
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