If it seems as though the kids are watching a lot more videos online than they were just a few years ago, appearances are reality. New research shows the typical American youth is spending an hour every day viewing online videos.
The news is unlikely to surprise any parent who has tried to pry a child away from YouTube or other sites with video content.
One of the many problems with this, according to Common Sense Media, the group that produced the study, is that much of the video content kids stumble across online is not appropriate for children and teens.
The study is yet another warning to adults to closely monitor children’s digital viewing habits. And it should also be a wake-up call to regulators and YouTube executives about the need to develop better filters and technology to help control children’s access to inappropriate material. YouTube’s platform is set up to cycle viewers from one video to another automatically. Even YouTube officials say that the site’s content is not appropriate for anyone younger than 13.
Common Sense Media compiled its report after surveying more than 1,600 participants between the ages of 8 and 18, asking them about their video-viewing habits. Fifty-six percent of 8-year-olds to 12-year-olds and 69% of 13-year-olds to 18-year-olds reported watching online videos every day. Those figures are up from 24% and 34%, respectively, in 2015.
One bit of good news in the report is that while more children have a daily video habit, their overall screen time remains roughly the same as it was in 2015 with kids ages 8 to 12 spending an average four hours and 44 minutes on digital devices a day and teens ages 13 to 18 spending seven hours and 22 minutes on them. These statistics do not count time children spent using devices to do their homework, read books or listen to music.
The children whose parents and grandparents were likely chided for spending too much time in front of the television now have increasingly less interest in traditional television or streaming programs, favoring online videos instead.
The Common Sense Media study ought to be another reminder for families to prioritize real-world, non-digital activities together and to limit screen time overall.