Study: Pre-schoolers increasingly connected

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Independent research company Childwise has found that access to connected devices (e.g., tablet, phone, PC, laptop) has grown this year among UK children under five after two years of little change.

The latest figures from the independent Childwise Monitor Preschool Report 2018 also show that pre-schoolers now spend an increasing amount of their day watching television and online video content – nearly 3 hours on average. This increase comes after three years of relative stability.

“Their access to tablets, PCs and laptops, has increased in the last 12 months to 75 per cent. This is the highest it has been since we started the survey,” says Childwise research manager Jenny Ehren.

“CBeebies remains the most popular TV channel among this group. However, subscription-based services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, have gained significant ground this year.”

Original YouTube content has appeared in the list of pre-schoolers favourite viewing content for the first time, with many of their choices focusing on nursery rhymes and educational viewing

Almost half of all preschool households now regularly access content via YouTube or YouTube kids.

“The increasing use of connected devices by pre-schoolers this year may reflect growing access to on-demand services, especially subscription-based options such as Netflix which has quickly risen through the ranks over the last three to four years,” adds Ehren.

“Their list of favourite programmes is becoming more varied, and whilst many are drawn from across the different preschool channels, we are beginning to see more references to content exclusively available on YouTube and paid for streaming services.”

Boys watch content for longer periods of time than girls, with the gap between the two continuing to widen this year – although both genders are watching for longer than ever before.

This year also sees a rise in the number of pre-schoolers with access to a games console at home, reversing the downward trend seen in recent years.

“This year has seen a noticeable increase in gaming with three out of 10 under-fives now regularly exposed to video games, often as players, but also as spectators as well,” says Ehren.

Findings include:

  • Personal ownership of connected devices (e.g., a tablet device, laptop/netbook, or a desktop PC) is now 44 per cent, up from 37 per cent in 2017, 35 per cent in 2016, 29 per cent in 2015 and 26 per cent in 2015.
  • 2018 is the first year that there are more 3-4 year-olds with their own connected device, than there are without (54 per cent, up from 47 per cent last year).
  • More than two thirds of preschool households own a voice recognition gadget, such as Siri or Alexa. More than a quarter of under-fives use voice recognition software.
  • YouTube is the favourite app in all age and gender categories.
  • Parents spend more than £100 a month on average across nine spending categories, including toys, clothing, footwear and days out.
  • This year sees an increase in the number of pre-schoolers doing arts and crafts and going to the library

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