However, kids’ access to media in India is also a matter of social class, with significantly more urban children having media access than children in rural regions. It is the former group that India’s prolific media and entertainment industry primarily creates targeted content for, as other industries depend on it to reach young consumers through advertising.
Children’s media consumption thrived on TV and animated contentTelevision was a dominant segment of the media industry and viewership reached new heights especially during the coronavirus pandemic. With schools being shut and lockdowns having restricted children to their homes, demand for kids’ television content spiked. By extension, the animation segment saw a healthy growth in its revenue stream especially as both global and local television networks tried to meet this demand by creating new kids’ channels and intellectual properties (IP).
As more family-friendly shows were produced, co-viewing became a trend that boosted viewership as well as advertising with the kid's genre accounting for three percent of TV ad volumes in 2021. Moreover, leading animation studios such as Green Gold Animation of the Chhota Bheem fame also entered partnerships with OTT platforms like Netflix to air their shows and productions.
Children on the internetChildren constituted about 14 percent of the country's overall internet user population in 2021. With YouTube being the leading online video and music streaming platform, it became the go-to website for children’s infotainment. Older children in urban areas spent over three hours a day on online activities such as gaming, watching videos and accessing social media.
Online gaming had parents divided in opinion. On one hand, there were those who acknowledged the skill-building benefits of playing certain games. Even classes that resumed online during the pandemic adopted a play-and-learn approach made possible by e-learning platforms. This, of course increased the amount of time kids engaged with media, which in turn caused parents to be concerned about their children getting addicted.
The cons of premature exposure to online media especially were weighty. On social networking sites, children were exposed to risks such as account theft, cyberbullying and abuse. Parents were also wary of their wards being vulnerable to giving away personal information to strangers. Instances of online gaming addiction inspiring violence and negatively impacting children’s development were a major factor in parents wanting to regulate media time.