Almost all children now consuming video content online says Ofcom

Almost all children in the UK aged between three and 17 consume video content on video-sharing sites and apps according to a new survey by Ofcom. 

Part of the online and media regulator’s annual study into young people’s relationships with the media and online world, the study also found that half of all young people watched live-streamed content.

a young girl using a laptop

Whilst YouTube remained the most popular site or app as it was used by 88% of 3 to 17 year olds, TikTok and Snapchat saw noticeable increases over the last year with the former going from 50% to 53%. 

However, despite the widespread use of video apps, Ofcom also found that 16 to 24 year olds were more likely to take a social media break as part of looking after their wellbeing with 36% having reported doing so, though over half thought they spent too much time on social media. 

That group was also more likely than the average adult to use all four communication types online, listed by Ofcom as social media, messaging, video-sharing and live-streaming, with 87% of this age group saying they do compared to 61% of all users. 

The type of content being consumed by young people was also investigated in the study, which is in its ninth year, with dramatic videos that skew towards sensationalised topics such as gossip and controversy being the most popular. 

A foreword to the report spoke of the blurred lines being presented to children online. Researchers said: ‘We’ve seen social media platforms become a never-ending experiential conveyor belt of content in children’s lives. Social content, news, opinion, entertainment and advertising are jumbled together, blurring boundaries between genres. 

‘Gossip is presented as news and vice versa. Advertising is portrayed as social discourse. Professional influencers talk to fans as though they’re best friends while monetising those relationships.’ 

You can read the full Children’s Media Lives report here. 

The safety of children online and the content they are presented with is one of the focuses of the government’s Online Safety Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament and could see tech leaders face jail time for failing to protect children online.

Photo by Robert Linder


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