Young children spend more time online, but reading remains popular

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The average time children spend online is now three hours per day, finds a new report.

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Nearly all five-to seven-year-olds use a computer at home, which for most of them is a tablet device

According to the 2019 Childwise Monitor report, based on survey responses of more than 2,000 five- to 16-year-olds in the UK, children are increasingly using their connected devices.

It finds that five- to-seven-year-olds spend an average of an hour- and a-half per day online, while older children spend 2.8 hours – an increase on last year.

Almost all five- to-seven-year-olds have a family computer at home, and three in four of them have their own computer, which for three in five is a tablet device. Three in ten children in this age group have their own mobile phone.

The Childwise Monitor report, which looks at children’s media consumption, purchasing, social habits and behaviour, finds however that as children age, they are more likely to say they want to ‘unplug’. Three in ten 15- to- 16-year-olds said they would like to spend more time disconnected from the internet and social media. Older children also reported feeling lonelier.

The report also revealed that children continue to like playing traditional card and board games such as snap, Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders.

While reading for pleasure has become slightly less popular overall, responses from five- to seven-year-olds to the survey, revealed that nine in ten of them continue to read books for pleasure, with two in five reading every day.

Other findings include:

  • Nine in ten five- to-seven-year-olds watch YouTube.
  • CBeebies remains the most popular TV channel with younger children. 
  • Five-to- seven-year-olds prefer watching cartoons. Their favourite programme is Peppa Pig.
  • Overall, YouTube is the top website/app. Snapchat maintains second position but is less popular than last year. The number of children naming Facebook as their favourite has halved again this year. Netflix has grown in popularity.
  • Boys and girls have similar reading habits at primary school age, but differences appear from the start of secondary school. Older girls read slightly more than older boys.

Research director at Childwise, an independent market research agency, said, ‘Children today may have a vast array of electronic gadgets to keep them entertained, and access to any games, music, video and information they want at the click of a button. But when it comes to having fun, traditional board and card games are still a popular pastime.

‘So perhaps one could surmise that, thanks to children’s continued delight in traditional games, they could be tempted off their connected devices to play a game of Monopoly, Cluedo or Top Trumps, with family and friends.

‘It looks as if this is something children may be happy to do, since the research shows that two in three say they are using their connected devices to stop them feeling bored, with children increasingly feeling alone and isolated.’

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