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16 June 2015
By Rebecca Avery

Ofcom Publish their First Children’s Media Lives qualitative report

Ofcom have today published their first Children’s Media Lives qualitative report. Ofcom’s Children’s Media Lives is a new three-year study, following the same 8-15 year olds each year to explore how they are using digital media and what they think about topics including content creation, funding and online safety. The study will also explore how digital media use evolves over time as children develop and respond to external changes such as new schools, friendships and access to new technology.

Eighteen children were interviewed for this first report and, although the number of participants is small, they have been chosen to reflect a broad cross-section of UK children in terms of age, location, ethnicity, social circumstances and access to technology. Key points highlighted by the research so far include:

  • Apps and portable devices meant parents and children were not always sure when children were online.
  • Tablets and the iPod Touch were children’s access point of choice for most activities.
  • Lots of the children had ‘hand-me-down’ technology.
  • The boundaries between social media and gaming were blurred for children.
  • YouTube is the "go-to" place for video content and searching.
  • Older siblings introduced the children to new content which wasn't always appropriate.
  • The role of advertising in content funding was not understood and the children had rarely given thought to how or why content is created. Children also struggled to identify "advertising" online.
  • The children found it easiest to think of physical dangers that might come from being online. They did not always understand the reasons behind online safety messages and did not always apply safety messages consistently in different contexts
  • The reality of day-to-day life could undermine parents’ attempts at mediation and technical solutions were not always flexible enough.
  • PINs, passwords and software were not updated as children’s skills developed and device use changed.

Ofcom’s Media Lives research complements Ofcom’s comprehensive quantitative media literacy research by providing an in-depth and detailed insight into use of, and attitudes towards, digital media.