Thursday, December 14, 2017

(UK) Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2017 #medialiteracy #fakenews

The 2017 annual research report from Ofcom on Children and parents: media use and attitudes has been published. As usual, it draws on substantial research, both quantitative and qualitative, and covers things like children's consumption and trust of news stories, use of social media, use of devices. "It provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15, as well as about the media access and use of young children aged 3-4. The report also includes findings relating to parents’ views about their children’s media use, and the ways that parents seek – or decide not – to monitor or limit use of different types of media." Ofcom is the communications and media official "watchdog" in the UK. The report has findings from their own quantitative and qualitative research and some other research, including:
- an online study of 500 children aged 12-15, "which explored children’s awareness, use and perceptions of content providers, and their interest in and ability to make critical judgements about news".
- Analysis of children’s television viewing habits sourced from BARB, the UK’s television measurement panel, 2011-2016.
- ComScore data on the frequency with which the most popular web entities among internet users were visited by children aged 6-14 in May 2017.
- Ofcom's qualitative study of children's media use.
I found an interesting finding was the prominence of YouTube: (p.3) "Double digit increases this year mean that half of 3-4s and more than eight in ten 5-15s now use YouTube. It is the most recognized content brand among 12-15s, and the one they are most likely to think includes their age group in its target audience, saying either that it is aimed specifically at their age group or at everyone. It is the one they would turn to first for all types of content they say is important to them, and the one they say they would miss the most if it was taken away. More 8-11s and 12-15s also say they prefer watching content on YouTube than TV programmes on the TV set" Different age groups prefer different types of video (p.9).

TV is seen as more reliable than social media (p.4) "TV is an important source of news for children, and is seen as more likely than social media to report the news truthfully. Around half of 12-15s say they are interested in the news, increasing to almost all 12-15s after prompting with a list of different types of news, including music, celebrities, sports and serious things going on in the UK and the world. TV is the most popular source of news among 12-15s, followed by social media and friends and family, and those who watch news on TV are more likely to say it is reported truthfully than those who get their news from social media."

Although often aware of personalised advertising and the fact that vloggers may be making paid endorsements "the qualitative research suggests that children can find it difficult to identify these adverts in practice, especially on social media where they may look similar to other kinds of content." This applies also to verifying news stories (p.4) "nearly half of 12-15s who use social media for news agreeing that it is difficult to tell whether a news story is true, and two in five saying they have seen something online or on social media that they thought was fake news. However, most of those who use social media for news have strategies for checking whether a story is true, with the most popular approach checking to see if a story appears elsewhere, followed by looking at the comments to see what people had said about the story. The news brand was also important, with around a quarter looking to see whether the source of the story was trustworthy or whether they had heard of the organisation behind the story."

There are some gender and age differences in value put on channels/devices (p72) "when comparing the device children would miss the most by gender, boys in each age group are more likely than girls to say they would most miss a games console/ player. Girls aged 5-7 (30% vs. 20%) and 8-11 (27% vs. 18%) are more likely than boys to miss a tablet; girls aged 8-11 also more likely to miss books, magazines or comics (8% vs. 3%). Girls aged 12-15 are more likely to miss a mobile phone (68% vs. 47%) as are girls aged 8-11 (22% vs. 14%)."
The report is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: reflection: outside the V&A Museum, London, November 2017

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