Life on the small screen: What children are watching and why

Published: 1 March 2019
Last updated: 16 March 2023

Ofcom commissioned this research to explore what video content children are watching, how they reach it, why they choose it.

It is always difficult for people – even adults – to articulate why they like what they like. For children, it can be even harder, so research that relies on asking them this question won’t reveal the full picture.

Instead, this research has gathered an objective dataset of what children watched across all platforms, before exploring with them the context, journey and decision-making process that led them to specific examples.

It also sought to understand what their interests are more generally and how they spend their free time, to be able to place their viewing behaviours in the context of their day-to-day lives. In this way, the research reveals what children watch, why they choose to watch it and how they find or discover it.

The evidence gives a sense of what attracts them to online video rather than traditional TV – and just how much has changed in the course of a generation.

Life on the small screen: What children are watching and why (PDF, 6.1 MB)

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