DROP IN YOUNG CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO DIGITAL DEVICES

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Savvy parents appear to be switching on to concerns about introducing very young children to connected technology.

A new survey by research company Childwise, found that little ones' access to digital devices has declined...slightly.

Three-quarters of under fives (76%) now have access to a connected device of some kind, such as a tablet, laptop, desktop or phone - down 5% from 2018.

Access for children two and under has dropped to 59%, that's 10% lower than the previous year.

Childwise believes the decrease may be driven by parents’ becoming more cautious about introducing younger kids to tech in the light of widespread concerns about the possible harmful effects of screen time.

However, as kids get a bit older their access increases and a whopping 93% - the same as in 2018 - of three to four years olds gain access to connected devices.

They are also becoming more tech-clever with 44% of three to four year olds able to use apps on their own, up from 38% last year, and 93% of them using them to watch on-demand content.

Under-fives spend more than two-and-a half hours watching video content per day in total, up from just over two hours in 2009.

There’s also been an increase in the amount of young children embracing the voice-recognition features of tech such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa - with 31% using them, up from 27% in 2018.

The report’s findings are based on interviews conducted online with 1,004 parents of children between six months and four years old across the UK this summer.

The survey also discovered that, despite the growing popularity of Netflix and YouTube, the vast majority of under fours (95%) are still turning to television as their dominant viewing platform.

This is a slight downturn from the Childwise's 2018 study, which put the figure at 97%.

CBeebies continues to be most popular TV channel for kids, followed by Nick Jr, Disney and Channel 5′s preschool programming block Milkshake!

But don’t think the digital players are out of the equation, as the fifth most popular viewing pleasure for little ones is content originating from YouTube.

This category collects shows mentioned by kids and parents that are only available on advertising-based video on demand (AVOD), and includes popular nursery rhymes and educational series.

In terms of the platforms where preschoolers are watching content, for the first time Netflix has overtaken YouTube to become the most popular destination for on-demand viewing, with 39% of kids saying it’s their favourite, up from 34% last year.

The global subscription video on demand (SVOD) is now accessible in the UK in 39% of preschool households.

Despite this shift, YouTube has maintained its share of the preschool audience. More than a third of households with little ones under five (37%) choose to watch television and other content via YouTube.