Ofcom report reveals vital insights into how kids consume content

By David Lawrence

Today’s Ofcom report will strike fear into any parents who are fighting a losing battle against getting their kid a smartphone. According to the report, half of all ten year olds in the UK now have their own device.  

At big technology shows like CES, Mobile World Congress or NAB you will often hear business leaders talking about how their own families consume media – like those observations are somehow representative of what “real people” are doing. It’s always vital to look at the actual trends in data. 

The Ofcom research highlights increasing perceptions of risk alongside the latest trends in how children use technology. Among the findings: 

  • Fewer parents and carers believe the benefits of their child being online outweigh the risks (now only 55%, down from 65% in 2015). 
  • Almost half (48%) of girls aged 5-15 now play games online – a big rise from 39% in 2018.
  • Around one in seven older children use TikTok (13%) – which actually seems like a low number
  • Children’s use of smart speakers has increased from 15% in 2018 to 27% in 2019
  • 80% of the children in the report watched video-on-demand, and 25% watched no live broadcast TV at all

There’s lots here for content providers, social media companies and consumer electronics manufacturers to be conscious of, to help frame upcoming launches. There’s also plenty that points the way toward the next phase of the debate around how children consume content. There’s no doubt that there’s a huge opportunity for the next generation of products that aim to help to keep kids safe online. 

Personally, I’m hoping my 9-year old doesn’t see the story on this week’s BBC Newsround and then wants a smartphone for her 10th birthday.