Children now spend more time online than watching TV

Children are spending more time online than they are watching TV. Picture: PA

Children are spending more time online than they are watching TV. Picture: PA

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Children are spending more time playing games and interacting online than watching TV, a new report has claimed.

However, youngsters use catch-up services such as Netflix more than real-time channels – with video site YouTube the most popular web stop.

The study, by market research agency Childwise, found that five to 16 year olds use the internet for an average of three hours a day and watch TV for 2.1 hours. Among older teenagers, aged 15 and 16, less than a quarter would typically watchTV as it is broadcast, rather than on a catch-up or on-demand service.

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The increase in on-demand services comes as it emerged that tablet ownership among children has also soared, making it easier for them to watch video content in different parts of the house or while on the move. The number who have their own iPad or equivalent rose by 50 per cent to two in three children in the past year. Four in five children now live in a house with a tablet device in it – up from just three in five the year before.

Simon Leggett, Childwise research director, said this year’s survey showed that “TV viewing has been redefined”.

“Growing access to the internet at any time and in any place, and a blurring of television content across channels and devices, brings a landmark change in behaviour this year,” he said. “Children are now seeking out the content of their choice. They still find traditional TV engaging but are increasingly watching them online and on-demand or bingeing on box sets.”

Video site YouTube is among the most popular net stops for entertainment, music, games, TV programmes, instruction and advice, with half of all youngsters saying they visited it at least once a day. Three in four children can now access the internet in their room, up from two in three last year, resulting in children spending more time in their bedrooms while they surf or chat online.

The study of 2,000 children, also found fewer children are spending time reading for pleasure. Just 53 per cent of youngsters said they had read a book for half an hour or less each day, while 8 per cent read magazines daily compared to 11 per cent the year before.

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