Tuesday, October 23, 2012

UK major report: Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes

There are some new reports from Ofcom (the UK "watchdog" for the communications sector). The main report, published today, is a substantial 200 page document, and the other 2 reports which I'll mention supplement that one.
Ofcom (2012) Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report Research Document. Ofcom. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/media-literacy/oct2012/main.pdf
The report is "designed to give an accessible overview of media literacy among [British] children and young people aged 5-15 and their parents/carers, as well as an indicative view of media use by children aged 3-4." Key research was 1,717 in-home interviews.
The report is packed with statistics about what kinds of device children access, and where they do so. 91% of children have internet access at home (for the first time, this is not an increase compared with the last report) - some children still do not access the internet anywhere. Unsurprisingly, mobile devices feature heavily, with gender differences in how the devices are used. Also, just picking up on a personal interest, in 8-11 year olds the only "creative or civic" activity that has gone up every year is creating an avatar in an online world (this year 48% had).
For some of the conclusions, I will be lazy and copy from the Executive summary.
" Children are using a wide range of media devices, and internet access is not confined to the desktop PC, laptop or netbook. Those aged 12-15 in particular are spending more time online, are more likely to go online using their mobile phone and are more likely to say that their mobile phone is the device they would miss the most.
"For the first time this report contains indicative data on the media habits of 3-4 year olds. This indicates that many in this age group are using a range of different media devices, including over a third who are going online using a desktop PC, laptop or netbook and 6% who are going online via a tablet computer.
"These trends have implications for how we consider children’s media literacy, as the requirement for media literacy skills begins at a young age, and the types of devices children need to be proficient on, and the opportunities for them to encounter media content, increase.
"Children, particularly 12-15s, are prolific social networkers with large numbers of friends – an average of 92 friends for 8-11s and 286 for 12-15s. This has implications for how children protect and share personal information, given that personal data available to “friends” on social networking sites is likely to be shared with large numbers of people."

2. Ofcom (2012) Websites visited by children: Nielsen analysis. Ofcom. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/media-literacy/oct2012/Annex_3.pdf

The data is "derived from Nielsen's UK panel of households, comprising 45,239 individuals". This is short, but interesting in listing top 25/50 sites for 3 age groups. As with the other reports, data was gathered in 2012.
- 5-7 years old: top ten (1 to 10): Google, Google Search, BBC, Facebook, MSN/WindowsLive/Bing, YouTube, BBC CBeebies, Yahoo!, eBay, Ask Search Network
- 8-11 years: top ten (1 to 10): Google, Google Search, YouTube, MSN/WindowsLive/Bing, Facebook, BBC, YouTube Homepage, Google Image search, Wikipedia, Windows Live Messenger
- 12-15 years: top ten (1 to 10): Google, Google Search, Facebook, MSN/WindowsLive/Bing ,YouTube,Google Image Search, YouTube Homepage, Yahoo!, Wikipedia

3. Jigsaw Research (2012) Parents’ views on parental controls: Findings of qualitative research. Ofcom. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/media-literacy/oct2012/Annex_1.pdf

The research used a purposive sample of parents (in the UK), with qualitative methods including focus groups and journaling (it gives details of the questions etc., useful for other researchers). Parents were more concerned about issues like cyberbullying and "grooming" and the impact of internet use on other parts of the child's life (e.g. exercise, writing), rather than issues to do with access to inappropriate content (partly because they didn't perceive it as a particular problem). Some quotes from the executive summary are:
"Overall, ensuring balanced and safe use of the internet was seen as an important parenting challenge, but one where parents were not always clear on how to get it right. This was because they could not necessarily draw on their own experiences growing up, and also because they felt that the issues and risks were constantly developing and shifting".
"Overall, technical controls were viewed as a supplement to, rather than replacement for, hands-on parenting. Supervision and other forms of parental mediation were felt still to be needed to prevent all of the day-to-day issues as well as risks emanating from children’s internet usage."
Photos by Sheila Webber: Autumn chrysanthemum blooms, October 2012


Hossian said...

Very interesting study, I work in surveys that covers young people, always interesting to see how the parents bemoan their overuse/ over enthusiasm for the tech, yet they have never known a life without it! Proves exciting for future society, an always connected populace from cradle to grave. This study is also very good for an essay set by Sue Hornby/Bob Glass on my MMU, who both led me here to begin with, great links!

Sheila Webber said...

Thanks James!