Believe it or not, there was a time when the radio provided people their main source of news and entertainment but then came television. Since the 1950s television has been king of the airwaves, but even that is changing thanks to a plethora of mobile options and kid’s viewing habits. Will TV sets eventually go the way of the radio? It’s possible.
The societal transference of TV viewing habits, from over-the-air to over-the-mobile screen, is most evidenced in how tots, tweens and teens consume content: using phones and tablets to access the Internet-based providers of their liking — no television necessary — with YouTube and Netflix consistently emerging as standouts.
“The shift away from traditional broadcast cable TV services, that’s been happening for years, but now we’ve hit critical mass,” said Terence Burke, the vice president of research for the kid-focused market research company KidSay. “Kids still watch TV. They still head to Disney and Nickelodeon, just in much smaller numbers and for much shorter durations.”
How are kids watching their programs? From tots to teens, many are using one or more mobile devices. The percentage of children that now own or use a smart phone or tablet is pretty amazing. According to the Pew Research Center, 88 percent of American teens ages 13 to 17 have or have access to a mobile phone, and 73 percent of teens have smartphones. Tweens, ages 10 to 13, are not far behind. And according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, almost all children (96.6%) used mobile devices, with most starting before age 1.
Smarty Pants, a market research firm that conducts an annual study on the digital behavior of kids’ ages 6 to 12, found that 81 percent of 6- to 8-year-olds and 76 percent of 9- to 12-year-olds use YouTube.
Netflix, meanwhile, is used by an identical percentage of the older set. A large chunk of the younger 6- to 8-year-olds, or 71 percent, are also Netflix users, according to the firm’s, “2015 Clicks, Taps & Swipes Report,” which was fielded between June and August with a nationally representative panel of kids and their parents.
With an endless selection of videos that are funny, irreverent and even educational, YouTube is not only the new stand-in for traditional cable TV when it comes to kids, but it’s also their go-to search engine. And, as kids get older, Netflix satisfies tweens’ emerging cravings for more serial material. Both video services win with kids because there is always something to watch, and all that’s required is a click of button on their favorite devices.
The three top producers of entertainment and streaming programming, YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, know that kids are changing the marketing landscape and have developed kid channels with competitive pricing. Parents looking for a way to cut cable costs are taking notice, cutting the cord and paying less for kid specific programming.
While mom and dad may still enjoy the enormous 70 in wide television set in the living room, their children are most likely going to be in their own room with one or more mobile devices streaming program that’s more to their liking.
Many kids say they can identify with the enormous variety of YouTube personalities. They feel more of a connection to them than with Hollywood or television stars. There’s also the interaction on comment sites with other viewers and kids their age.
Which videos watchers choose to click on is often driven by how many views its’ had or from peer recommendation.
Of course, with YouTube, Netflix and Amazon there is not only kid’s programming but plenty of adult programming as well.
It’s definitely a different world from when many of us grew up. Once the “Wonderful World of Disney” or the “Ed Sullivan” show was family time in front of the TV set. Now, mobile devices have made it possible for everyone to go their own way and watch whatever they want. Not exactly a family bonding experience or a time when one can talk about what you’ve watched together.
Experts agree that for parents trying to keep an eye on their kid’s viewing habits, it’s getting harder and harder to monitor what they are seeing and learning over the Internet. That said, parents shouldn’t just throw up their hands and give in to allowing their children all the free time they want on their smart phone or tablet. Setting guidelines and sticking to them may not make you the most popular parent for a while, but your child may learn that there are benefits and rewards when someone loves you enough to lay down some common sense rules and expect that they be followed.
Sources: Jennifer Van Grove, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/nov/30/kids-tv-youtube-netflix-smartphones/all/?print