Four in Five UK kids watch TV On Demand - BBC and CBBC iPlayers

written by: Richard Kastelein

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UK Children's screen habits were recently revealed in a survey of 2,445 children between the ages of 5 and 16 by Child Wise, according to the BBC.

The results are staggering and indicative of what the future of television will look like:

More than four in five used internet "on demand" television services, with 51% watching via the BBC iPlayer and 36% of younger children (seven to 10) using the CBBC iPlayer.

The study also shows that many children spend time on social networking sites:

A third (36%) of seven to 10-year olds visited Facebook in the week before the survey was conducted. 11 and 12-year-olds this rose to 71% of and to 85% for 13 to 16-year-olds.

In general children in the UK seem to be devouring media, spending more and more time in front of screens:

A survey of 2,445 children aged five to 16 by Child Wise found almost two in three have their own computer (62%). And nearly half have internet access in their own room (46%).

The poll suggests two thirds (65%) of children go online most days and collectively children in the UK spent 13 million hours on websites every day. The survey found children regularly use their mobile phones and games consoles to access the internet, giving wider access and personal control.

In the five to 16 age bracket, 70% of children have their own mobile phone and this rises to 97% from the age of 11. Among 11-16 year olds, almost two in three are able to access the internet via their phone (65%), and 43% do this regularly.

This sure puts a dent in the argument of the Nay Sayers who think TV is going to remain a linear, lean back experience and that people don't want to interact with the big living room screen.

Think about it this way... as Nick Bilton so brilliantly noted in his groundbreaking book called, "I live in the Future and here's how it Works".

In 1424, the University of Cambridge, one of the largest libraries in Europe, had 124 hand-written books. When Johannes Gutenberg started printing books in 1452, the monks who had previously and painstakingly written all of the world's  literature since writing began, scoffed at and derided the new form of books that were coming into the market. And were simply not worried about it as most commoners could not read anyway - and the modest reproductions couldn't stand anywhere near their exquisite work. Today the Cambridge Library has over seven million books.

The clergy and nobility thought they had it in the bag. But the printing press was to change the world as they knew it, stripping thought leadership from the clergy, kings, politicians and religious leaders. The ideas that appeared in print and were later widely shared pushed through, not only the reformation, but also the sciences and arts - levelling the ground and instigating what can only be called a Renissance on it's own.

When TV first started appearing, the Washington Post noted in 1929 that serious meetings were being held to discuss whether television would, "Detract from theater attendence when it is more fully developed". And through it's development, hundreds of articles published from the beginning until today have pushed the idea that television can corrupt and ruin society.

In 1995, Clifford Stoll wrote in Newsweek:

Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

And who'd prefer cybersex to the real thing?

Here's some recent commentary from Engadget - one of the Internet's leading gadget innovation sites, from a rather unenlightening article coined I Just Want A Dumb TV:

Hey, so remember when building VCRs into TVs seemed like a good idea? And then how it turned out that is wasn’t? Yeah, connected TVs are basically just like that. A TV is a huge purchase. People spend thousands of dollars on an item that they’ll keep for years, watch for hours a day, and display prominently in their homes, almost like a piece of furniture. It’s less like buying a piece of electronics, and more like buying a car.

So, here’s the idea: Just buy dumb TVs. Buy TVs with perfect pictures, nice speakers and and attractive finish. Let set top boxes or Blu-ray players or Apple TVs take care of all the amazing connectivity and content afforded to us by today’s best internet TVs. Spend money on what you know you’ll still want in a few years—a good screen—and let your A/V cabinet host the changing cast of disposable accessories. Besides, interface like Apple TV’s or Boxee’s are miles better than the clumsy, underdesigned connected TV interfaces turned out by companies like LG and Samsung.

And TV manufacturers: Don’t just make more dumb TVs. Make them dumber.

Where do I start? As someone who actually happily owns a connected TV (though confessedly, my seven and nine year old daughters use it more than me - cue Justin Bieber videos on Youtube App), I just feel this piece held some assumptions that are not validated in any way by easily available data that's out there. And I rebutted the writer's opines here.

So the kids will lead the revolution. As they have always done. Content providers, broadcasters, agencies and brands will have to start getting much creative if they want to pull the younger demographic into their pitches... it's pretty tough to ram traditional commercials in front of a generation whose attention spans are already getting chipped away at with their entrance into and on-demand, anywhere in-the-cloud world.

Simply bunging in a 30 second slot between cartoons on linear TV is a dying form. And that's clear by the statistics above.


About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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