Media Literacy Audit: Report on media literacy amongst children
The promotion of media literacy is a new responsibility placed on Ofcom arising from Section 11 of the Communications Act 2003.
Ofcom?s definition of media literacy, developed after formal consultation with stakeholders, is ?the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts?. Media literacy gives people the confidence and knowledge to get the most out of the many media platforms that now exist.
Ofcom has carried out an audit of media literacy across the UK and in March 2006 published its first report, which details the audit?s findings across all UK adults. That report, Ofcom?s Media Literacy Audit: report on adult media literacy, is available at www.ofcom.org.uk/advice/media_literacy. A series of supplementary reports is also available, examining the views of adults from minority ethnic groups, older people, disabled people, and people across the nations and regions.
This report focuses on children aged 8-15 across the UK. Its purpose is to provide stakeholders with a source of information about children?s levels of media literacy. We examine children according to two main age-bands ? 8-11 and 12-15. We asked children about their media uptake and usage, as well as their attitudes to media and towards learning. We also asked children?s parents about the extent and type of rules in the home regarding the media platforms, and compared these with children?s responses.
Our main findings are :
Across all platforms
- Some 72% of children aged 8-15 have access to digital TV at home, 64% have access to the internet at home, 47% of parents say there is household access to digital radio services, and 65% of 8-15s have their own mobile phone. Just under half of 8-11s have their own mobile phone (49%) compared to 82% of 12-15s.
- Just over one quarter (28%) of all children aged 8-15 have digital TV and the internet at home and have their own mobile phone. This is considerably more common amongst older children, accounting for 36% of 12-15 year olds compared to 21% of 8-11 year olds.
- Half of children aged 8-15 own a games console (50%), and a further third (34%) use the one in the household.
- One in three children aged 8-11 (35%) and half of those aged 12-15 (49%) say they mostly watch TV on their own, with just over one-third of 8-11s and just over one quarter of 12-15s saying they mostly watch with a grown up.
- Across all children aged 8-15, one quarter (23%) both mostly watch television on their own and mostly watch television in their bedroom. This ?solitary? TV viewing accounts for one in five (19%) of 8-11s and over one quarter of 12-15s (28%), with no difference by gender for either age group.
- Nearly three quarters of all children aged 8-15 have a TV in their bedroom (73%), with this being more common for boys than for girls in each age group.
- Children aged 8-15 watch a (self-reported) average of 13.9 hours of TV per week. Children in Scotland (15.2 hours), Northern Ireland (16.1), those from minority ethnic groups (15.2) and those living in low income households (15.5) watch significantly more.
- Amongst those with a television at home and either internet access, a mobile phone or digital TV (92% of all children aged 8-15), half (49%) have interacted having seen something on television using a mobile phone (to send a text message), the internet (to send an e-mail or visit a website), or the interactive button on their TV remote control.
- Interactivity is significantly more common amongst 12-15s (57%) than amongst 8-11s (14%), with 12-15 year old girls significantly more likely to have interacted (69%) compared to 12-15 year old boys (44%).
- Some 78% of children aged 12?15 feel that news programmes are true either always or most of the time, and 76% feel similarly about nature and wildlife programmes. 54% say this for current affairs programmes (with only 11% saying they are true ?all the time? compared to 35% saying this about news programmes). One third (33%) of 12-15 year olds say that reality TV programmes are true all or most of the time, although 20% say they are never true.
- Some 16% of all 12-15s say that they don?t watch news programmes. One in three children (33%) claim never to watch current affairs programmes, compared to 21% saying they don?t watch nature programmes, and only 12% saying that they don?t watch reality TV programmes.
- Across both age groups, three quarters (73%) of parents of 8-15 year olds say they have rules about their child?s TV, video and DVD viewing. Rules are significantly more common amongst parents of children from minority ethnic groups (91%).
- For the 8-11 year age group, parents and children respond similarly about whether there are any rules about the child?s viewing: 85% of parents and 80% of children aged 8-11 say there are rules. For the 12-15 age group, there is a difference between parents and children, with 61% of parents and 49% of children saying that there are rules for TV viewing.
- Close to three in ten parents in households with a cable or satellite TV service have set controls to restrict access to certain channels.
- Some 71% of children aged 8-11 say they listen to the radio, and 85% of those aged 12-15. Girls are more likely to listen than boys.
- Half (51%) of all children aged 8-15 who listen to radio at home usually do so on their own; two in five (38%) of 8-11s and two thirds (63%) of 12-15s. Amongst 8-11s, boys who listen to radio at home are significantly more likely to listen alone than girls (44% compared to 33%).
- Children aged 8-15 listen to a (self-reported) average of 5.4 hours per week ? approximately three-fifths at home and two-fifths in the car. Older children (12-15) listen more (6.6 hours per week) than 8-11s (4 hours per week).
- Amongst those children who listen to radio at home and either have internet at home or a mobile phone (48% of all aged 8-15), one in seven (15%) has interacted having heard something on radio using a mobile phone (to send a text message) or the internet (to send an e-mail or visit a website). This is significantly more common for 12-15s than 8-11s (at 20% and 8% respectively), and again it is girls aged 12-15 that are driving this difference (with 25% of girls in this group having interacted compared to 13% of boys).
- One quarter (26%) of parents of 8-11 year olds report any rules about radio listening, and 16% of parents of 12-15 year olds. For comparison, 85% of parents of 8-11s and 61% of parents of 12-15s reported any rules about watching television. Unlike the comparable findings for television, children are rather more likely (significantly so for 8-11s) to report any rules about listening to radio than their parents.
- Nearly half (48%) of children aged 8-11 use the internet at home, and two-thirds (65%) of children aged 12-15 do so. Amongst older children there is no difference by gender, but amongst 8-11 year olds, boys are significantly more likely to use the internet at home compared to girls (at 54% compared to 42%).
- Internet access in the bedroom is more common amongst children aged 12-15. 13% of all children aged 12-15 have internet access in their rooms, compared to 3% of 8-11s. 12-15 year old girls are more likely to have access in their rooms than boys.
- Two in five (40%) of 8-11s and over two-thirds (71%) of 12-15s say they mostly use the internet on their own at home.
- Across all children aged 8-15, 6% both mostly use the internet on their own and mostly use the internet in their bedroom. This degree of solitary internet use accounts for one in ten (11%) of all children who use the internet at home - 4% for 8-11s and 17% for 12-15s who use the internet at home. Whilst solitary internet use accounts for more boys than girls aged 8-11 who use the internet at home (6% compared to 1%), the reverse is true for 12-15 year olds, with a higher incidence of solitary users amongst girls compared to boys (at 23% compared to 11%).
- Children aged 8-15 who use the internet at all (whether at home, school or elsewhere) use the internet for a (self-reported) average of 6.2 hours per week, with 12-15s using it far more (8 hours per week) than 8-11s (4.4 hours per week).
- Whilst using the internet for school work and for playing games are the top two uses for children in each age group, children aged 12-15 make a broader use of the internet than those aged 8-11.
- Across all children who use the internet, one in six (16%) has come across anything of concern to them, with this being more common for 12-15s than 8-11s.
- Some 31% of 12-15s using the internet at home say they make any checks on new websites (from a prompted list of checks). Those that say they have been taught about the internet at school are more likely than those that haven?t to make these checks (33% compared to 23%).
- Whilst two in three (67%) children aged 12-15 who use the internet at home agree that they trust most of what they find on this internet, one in five (20%) disagrees, and a further one in ten (13%) is unsure. Responses do not vary by nation, but children from minority ethnic groups are more likely to disagree (at 30%) that they trust most of what they find on the internet.
- Nearly all parents of 8-11s who use the internet (95%) say they have rules about their child?s access, with rules relating to content nominated by almost all of these parents. Parents of 12-15 year olds who use the internet are significantly less likely to have any rules for their child?s access, although rules are reported by four in five (78%) and these are again dominated by rules relating to content.
- Parents whose children are mostly solitary internet users (through mostly using the internet without an adult and mostly using the internet in their own bedroom) are significantly less likely to have any rules for their children around using the internet (at 67% compared to 86% across all parents of 8-15s). This lower incidence of parental rules regarding internet use where the children mostly uses the internet on their own is likely to be related to the finding that older children are more likely to be solitary internet users.
- For each age group, parents are significantly more likely to report any rules than the children, with the largest gap relating to content rules, reported by 78% of parents overall and 60% of children.
- Around half of all parents with internet access have some kind of blocking in place to stop their children viewing certain types of websites, with no significant differences by the age of the child.
- Parents who do not have blocks in place give reasons for this largely relating to trusting their child, although around one in five of these parents say they do not have controls set because they?re unsure how to do this or were not aware it was possible.
- Two-thirds (65%) of children aged 8-15 own a mobile phone - 49% of 8-11s and 82% of 12-15s. There is a sharp increase in ownership between the age of 10 (40% owning a mobile) and 11 (78% owning a mobile).
- Across all children aged 8-15 with a mobile phone, the average (self-reported) weekly volume of calls made stands at 8, plus 25 text messages sent per week. The average for 8-11s is 6 calls and 16 text messages, and an average of 9 calls and 31 text messages for 12-15s.
- Some 15% of 8-11s and 42% of 12-15s are solely responsible for paying their own mobile phone bill. Responses do not vary to any significant extent by gender within age group.
- Estimates from parents of children aged 8-15 with mobile phones put the average monthly spend at £10.50 per month; £9 for 8-11s and £11.50 for 12-15s. Amongst 8-11s the average spend does not vary to any significant extent, but 12-15 year old girls are estimated to spend significantly more than 12-15 year old boys; at £12.60 compared to £10.20.
- The top two reasons for having a mobile phone differ significantly by gender, with girls aged 12-15 being more likely to have a phone to keep in touch with friends and boys more likely to have a phone to keep in touch with family.
- The most popular uses of the mobile for each age group are sending text messages and making calls. The third most popular use is to use the phone for playing games. This is the only type of use made by a significantly higher proportion of 8-11s compared to 12-15s.
- Four in five parents of 8-11s report any rules compared to three in five children aged 8-11. Parents and children for this age group are significantly more likely to report any rules about mobile phone use than the 12-15 year age group. For the 12-15 year age group, again parents are significantly more likely to report any rules compared to their children, and they are significantly more likely to report any rules relating to payment than parents of 8-11s.
Attitudes and preferences
- Around one third of 12-15 year olds have direct experience of creating ringtones and playlists. One in five overall say they have set up their own website. Around half have either experience of or interest in setting up their own website and making a short film using a digital camcorder, and rather fewer are interested in making a short film using a mobile phone.
- Around one half of 12-15 year olds say they have no interest in four out of the seven prompted types of creativity.
- Children aged 8-11 are significantly more likely to prefer to learn from school (48%) and from their parents (45%) than those aged 12-15. One in three 8-11s (33%) prefers to learn from friends, with other ways of learning nominated by fewer than one in five children aged 8-11. By contrast, the top choice for children aged 12-15 is to learn about digital technologies from friends, nominated by nearly half (47%) of those aged 12-15.
- Around two-thirds (64%) of all children aged 8-11 say they have had any lessons which teach them about the internet, and just one in ten in this age group (9%) say they have had any lessons which teach them about television or films. Both types of lessons are more common amongst the oldest children (aged 11) in this age group, rising to 76% for lessons about the internet and 15% for lessons about television or film.
- Some 40% of 12-15s say they have learned about TV at school, and three quarters in this age group (74%) have learned about the internet at school.
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Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
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