UK Regulator Reveals Kids' Media Literacy

03 May 2006

UK media regulator Ofcom has published the results of detailed research to assess the extent of children's media literacy in Britain.

The watchdog defines media literacy as the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts.

The audit focuses on the four main digital media platforms - digital television, digital radio, the internet and mobile phones. More than 1,500 children aged eight to 15 and their parents were interviewed for the research.

The key findings of the survey were:

  • Of children aged 8-11, 35% watch television mostly on their own.
  • Over seven in ten parents in cable or satellite television households have not set controls to restrict their children's access to television channels. Some 15% of parents of 8-11s and 39% of parents of 12-15s said there are no house rules about watching television.
  • Some 40% of 8-11s and 71% of 12-15s say they mostly use the internet on their own at home.
  • Around half of internet households have no software installed to limit children's access to certain types of websites.
  • Two in three (67%) children aged 12-15 who use the internet at home said they trust most of what they find on the internet.
  • Some 78% of children aged 12-15 feel that news programmes are either always true or true most of the time whereas 54% say this about current affairs programmes and 33% say this of reality TV programmes.
  • Girls aged 12-15 are more likely than boys to have a mobile phone (87% compared to 77%), use the internet (63%, 54%), listen to the radio (54%, 40%), and read newspapers or magazines (49%, 36%). Boys in this age group only exceed girls for playing console or computer games (66% compared to 51%).

    Ofcom partner Tim Suter comments: "The report provides important insights into a generation whose media experiences, attitudes and preferences are markedly different from those of their parents. There are challenges and opportunities for all involved."

    Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by WARC staff