Children and media in the UK - Statistics & Facts

‘Generation alpha’, ‘iGen’, and ‘screenagers’ are just a handful of newly-coined terms being used to describe the tech-savvy youth of today. Born to millennial parents and having grown up with touchscreens, smart technology and artificial intelligence seamlessly integrated into their lives, children today are the world’s first true ‘digital natives’. With nearly half of ten-year-olds in the United Kingdom already owning smartphones and tablets, never before has the internet shaped children’s lives so powerfully, informing the way they think, behave and purchase.

According to recent data, over 60 percent of children in the United Kingdom have at least one social media account on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat. Not only that, multiple online identities – resulting in terms such as ‘finsta’ and ‘rinsta’ – are becoming commonplace. A majority of children are constantly connected, more so than in previous generations. In the UK alone, internet consumption by children reached an all-time high in 2017 and 2018, with 5 to 15-year-olds spending an average of 15.3 hours online per week. These figures have been on the rise since 2011.

Additionally, 2019 revealed an overwhelming increase in the number of children who consumed video-on-demand (VOD) services such as Netflix. In the 8 to 11-year-old age group, 78 percent used VOD in 2019 compared to 43 percent the previous year. This is likely to be spurred on in 2020 by the arrival of Disney+ in the United Kingdom, with 31 percent of households with children already considering subscribing to the service months before its launch. As social media, music and video streaming consumption continues to rise, the use of game consoles has in contrast seen a significant decline among children across all age groups.

Rapid digitalization has not left behind traditional methods of learning and reading, however. Children’s book sales revenue has remained relatively stable in the United Kingdom, reaching 368 million British pounds in 2018. This was the second highest recorded figure since 2009. School-aged children also demonstrated a positive attitude toward reading, with over 50 percent of children believing that good reading skills will increase their chances of getting a well-paying job in the future.

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Children and media in the United Kingdom (UK)

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