Mexico City.- If there is something that parents from Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States have in common, it is that “they share concerns and needs regarding the use of technology by their children,” said Eduardo Cruz, CEO of Qustodio, online security platform and digital well-being for families, during the presentation of its annual report on digital habits of minors entitled “From change to adaptation: living and learning in a digital world”.
And it is not for less because, according to the study, children between 4 and 18 years of age in these countries spend an average of 4 hours a day connected to a screen outside the classroom, that is, they spend a total of 1,460 hours a year browsing through Youtube or watching TikTok videos.
38% of children between the ages of 5 and 15 spend between one and two hours a day connected; 31% spend more than two hours online every day and 53% more than two hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.
The report has been made based on anonymous information provided by 400,000 families with children between the ages of 4 and 18 in Spain, United States and United Kingdom during 2021, in addition to a total of 1,200 interviews. For the first time, it also has the perspective of those of the minors in order to know their point of view on digital reality to have a better understanding of what it means to grow up with the technology.
The life of the generations Zeta and Alpha rotatesalmost exclusively to the online world. 62% of children between the ages of 5 and 15 have their own phone, 47% regularly use three or more devices and 75% use at least two digital devices different daily. “The idea of owning a device among minors is growing year after year,” Cruz recalled.
Watch videos, listen to music, socialize with friends, using social networks or playing games are, in this order, the use that minors make of technology. And families highlight both positive and negative aspects of this relationship between minors and the Internet: 79% consider that new technologies help their children to learn; 61% believe that it is worth it for explore and investigate new ideas; 56% believe that it improves their sociability and 47% believe that it helps them entertain themselves. In turn, adults also know that it affects their physical activity (47%), they isolate themselves more in their rooms (36%), it increases frustration (23%) and it causes sleep disorders (20%).
“The digital pacifier happens in all families”, pointed out the CEO of Qustodio. But “you also have to teach them that they have to know how to move in the physical world because not everything is just a click away. They have to know how to deal with the nos when everything on the internet is yes. This is an undeniable problem”, he reflected.
When it comes to watching videos, Spanish children spend 28 minutes a day mainly on YouTube and Prime Video, the two favorites followed by Netflix and Disney+. Although it is true that online platforms have suffered a drop in global use compared to 2020 (15.6%), it is the favorite activity of the Zeta and Alpha generations.
Specific mention deserves Twich. According to the study, although its time of use grew by 150% in 2020, in 2021 it fell by 26% in the three markets as a whole. Even so, it is the fourth most used online video platform during 2021 by Spanish minors. “It’s a powerful niche,” Cruz assured, because “that’s where the main youtubers operate, who broadcast from their homes every day.”
If adults see what they want and when they want, minors follow the same line. For this reason, from Qustodio, they encourage parents to find out about the new platforms to better tune in with their children. In addition, they will increasingly focus on offering family content.
TikTok, the favorite social network
The social mediafor their part, were the main protagonists in 2020 but also in 2021. Spanish minors spend an average of 50 minutes a day in them, especially in TikTok, the favorite for more than 57% of children, who spend 87 minutes a day on it. They are followed by Instagram (54 minutes/day), Snapchat (24), Twitter (11) and Pinterest (9).
Everything points to the Qustodiobecause large technology companies work on the development of applications with a “child-friendly” version, such as YouTube Kids and Messenger Kids, already settled. Instagram and TikTok are expected to do the same.
Within the field of video games, increasingly accessible, the data remains unchanged in time of use.
Roblox continues to lead the ranking with 56% of active profiles and, for the first time, is also in first position in Spain with 38%, unseating Brawl Stars (33%), which has been the leader since 2019. Spanish minors spent, in 2021, 145 minutes a day with Roblox; 34 minutes with Minecraft and 30 playing Brawl Starts.
The study also highlights how in 2021 the use of communication applications rose again in the three markets as a whole, going from 36 minutes a day to 46. However, the behavior of minors has not been in that line and spent just one more minute on average per day (29 to 30 minutes) on WhatsAppthe queen of “apps”.
Finally, regarding the use of educational applications, “there has been a small catastrophe”, Cruz has indicated. And it is that during the pandemic, its use was exponential.
Interestingly, the global use of educational “apps” grows in United States and United Kingdom.
Duolingo is the favorite educational platform for minors in the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain.
When it comes to analyzing how the return to classrooms after the new normal is being, there are notable differences between countries: while in Spain, 6 out of 10 parents say that their children use electronic devices in class, these figures rise to 71% and 81% in the UK and US respectively. “What we see in US schools is that it is the schools themselves that distribute a device to each child, while here, in Spain, that does not happen”, Cruz pointed out.
Tips for families from Qustodio
1. Quality over quantity. Encourage family members to be more mindful of screen time
2. Downtime. Set daily or weekly schedules free of connectivity.
3. Bring learning to the real world. To develop your skills and explore your thinking without screens.
4. Family time. Carry out family activities away from screens, promoting sports and other leisure activities.
5. Keep communication open. Screen time should be part of the conversation for parents and educators, checking in on how kids use technology.
6. Prevent solo screen use. Some examples: playing video games together, setting up social media accounts, etc.