Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise.
Screen time is made up of time spent watching TV, playing games consoles, using a mobile, computer or tablet.
The Connected Kids report has collated data from 1995 to the present day to create a comprehensive picture of children’s media habits. It finds that teenaged girls now spend an average of seven-and-a-half- hours watching screens, compared with 3.5 hours of TV viewing in 1995.
Younger children fare slightly better – in 1995, five to 10-year-olds averaged around two-and-a-half-hours of TV. Fast-forward to 2014 and screen time has risen to four-and-a-half hours.
Children are also now multi-screening – using more than one device at the same time, for example, watching TV while surfing the Internet on a tablet or mobile so some of the screen time will be concurrent.
“The main difference from the 1990s is that then TV and magazines were the main ways for connecting kids to the media and now they have different devices from tablets, mobiles, games consoles and they have a much higher screen time,” commented research executive Matthew Nevard.
Chilldren’s TV viewing habits have changed dramatically, with the majority now watching television via catch-up services and YouTube rather than the traditional TV set, according to the report.
YouTube is the most popular on-demand service with more than half of respondents accessing TV and video via the site since 2013. Paid-for on-demand services, such as Netflix, have also risen rapidly in recent years and are expected to continue to grow in popularity.
BBC One, on the other hand, has seen its audience of seven to 16-year-olds drop from over 80 per cent in 1995 to just over 40 per cent in 2014. ITV’s audience follows a similar trajectory.
The transition to digital, coupled with dedicated children’s channels, is another reason for the the drop in children’s viewing of the main channels with children now watching more content on dedicated channels such as CBBC, CITV, Nickelodeon and Disney.