UK report offers insight into decling radio and near ubiquitous Youtube consumption trends among children

Ofcom, the regulator of the British media, published an interesting report in the past few weeks with regard to children’s media literacy. The report shines some interesting light on developing trends in media consumption by young people in the UK that we can assume has some resonance here in Ireland. Also, it is a reasonable assumption that media consumption habits formed in childhood will stay with us into later life.

Firstly, TV remains the prevalent method of media consumption with 97% of children (5 years old to 15 years old) using a TV set; more or less unchanged since 2007 when the first report was issued. Tablets are the second most popular method, with 75% of children using them; up from 5% in 2007. However the massive decline in radio set use is a key take away; in 2007 two-thirds of children were using FM/DAB radio sets, but now that use has fallen to just 33%. This figure is all the more stark as somewhere in the order of two-thirds of children have access to radios, but only one-third use them. While the report does not go into consumption of radio or radio type media consumption elsewhere, those figures must spell concern for the long-term ubiquity of live radio usage.  

The other main finding that will be of interest, are those relating to the usage of Youtube. As would be expected, the use of YouTube increases with the age of the child, accounting for

  • 37% of 3 -4s;
  • 54% of 5- 7s;
  • 73% of 8 - 11s; and
  • 87% of 12 - 15s.

In terms of what they are consuming, according to the report parents of younger children aged 3 - 4 (75%) and 5 - 7 (57%) are most likely to say their child watches TV programmes, films, cartoons, mini-movies, animations or songs on YouTube, making this their child’s favourite type of content on YouTube. In this sense it is merely delayed TV consumption. However, as children get older this makes way for music videos, funny videos/ pranks and content posted by vloggers. For children of the 12-15 age profile, they are as likely to express a preference for Youtube video (41%) as against traditional TV (42%). When looking in depth at this age group and what type of media they like to consume on Youtube, the most popular content is funny videos/pranks and music videos. However 46% consume content from Vloggers.

Given the focus on social media influencer engagement, an interesting question was posed. Twelve to 15 year olds were asked the question:

On sites like YouTube some vloggers with lots of followers like Zoella, Thatcher Joe or PewDiePie might say good things about a particular company or product or brand, such as Nike clothing, a new game or clothes  from TopShop. Why do you think they might say good things about these products or brands?

More than half of internet users aged 12 - 15 (57%) came back to say that the reason was they are being paid to do so; up ten per centage points year on year. This is worth placing in the context of recent debates and issues on influencer engagement and marketing, and suggests that a wariness of endorsement is beginning to become the norm.

The full report can be accessed here.


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