Not in my house, judging by the amount of Rocket League highlights videos my nine year-old gets through in the average weekend. But a new report from research company Kids Insights dares to suggest that YouTube’s appeal may be wearing off – at least for some children.
Here’s the relevant section from its Future Forecast 2019 report, which is based on surveys of more than 20,000 children in each of the US and UK:
“It would take a brave organisation to predict the decline of YouTube, but according to our data across all ages 4–18 the number of children spending time each day watching YouTube has declined from 61% to 51% in a persistent trend over the year. Even among older children (10–15 year olds) the proportion watching anything on YouTube has dropped from 65.4% to 54.8% in the last 12 months.”
Why might this be happening? Kids Insights thinks that competition from other social apps and streaming services is one reason: its report claims that Netflix “now has 58% of children using between the ages of 4 and 18 — a 31% increase since the beginning of the year” [that year being 2018] while it also reckons TikTok is now used by “one in 10 tween girls” aged 10–12.
Gaming (sound the Fortnite klaxon!) and the ability for kids to watch esports (professional gaming competitions) on sites like Twitch are also cited as possible factors in any YouTube decline. These aren’t necessarily bad news for YouTube, of course: there are plenty of popular channels uploading Fortnite videos on YouTube, and you can also find live and archived esports broadcasts there too.
As parents, we shouldn’t get carried away: even this study suggests that more than half of 4–18 year-olds still watch YouTube every day, and more data to understand shifting behaviours within that age range would be useful. It’s better to think about the specifics of our families, as ever — to have a good handle on where and how our children spend their screen-time, and what they’re watching and playing.