Technology tempts, but most Canadian kids still prefer real life fun

There's good news for parents, but bad news for advertisers – playing outside and with friends still ranks higher than TV and streaming.

There can be concern that today’s kids are spending too much time staring into the blue lights of digital screens and not enough time riding their bikes with the neighbourhood crew. So, a new infographic from Media Technology Monitor Junior titled “Just Kidding Around” took a look at just what it is Canadian kids from the ages of two to 17 do with all their spare time.

The results show that it’s not the greatest news for advertisers, but probably good news for concerned parents.

MTM graphFor this age bracket, born anywhere between 2002 and 2017, media and technology have had a significant impact on their day to day. They have experienced a childhood filled with a much more robust knowledge base than any generation before them. Good or bad, this has extended endless possibilities for activities to engage in, but the good news is most kids still like hanging with each other (in real life).

MTM Jr. broke down the most popular activities by age. Playing with toys and spending time with family was most popular among kids aged two to six years old. Those activities also ranked high with kids aged seven to 11 years old, but so did hanging out with friends or playing video games. For youth between the ages of 12 and 17, higher interest was shown in activities like using social networks, watching online video or listening to music.

This means there might be fewer opportunities to reach kids with ads – although changing regulations on marketing to kids, as well as YouTube reportedly mulling removing kid-targeted ads altogether – mean that marketing to children is already a tricky subject.

But Canadian kids are still connected; according to a past study by MTM Jr., 98% of Canadian children tune into some form of TV – be it linear or online – per month. And, 64% of kids across all age groups reported that their  favourite activity in their spare time was watching video content. YouTube is the platform of choice for video content for more than 87% of those aged 12 to 17 years old, 78% of those aged seven to 11 years old and 73% of those two to six years old. Close to half of 12 to 17-year-olds choose it over Netflix (33%) or traditional TV (12%).

MTM Jr. found boys and girls fairly equally enjoyed activities like playing or hanging out with friends, using video streaming services or watching linear TV. As well, using digital platforms like YouTube, playing with toys or crafts, spending time with family, listening to music, reading and playing sports all received roughly the same amount of interest from all kids.

One notable difference found between Anglophone and Francophone youth was Anglophones were found to have a higher interest in video streaming services, not unlike their adult counterparts. Past MTM studies have shown that even the most tech-savvy generations – Millennials and Gen Z – show a language divide when it comes to OTT and streaming, with Anglophones engaging at higher rates. This is likely because of the long-observed lack of Francophone content in the libraries of streamers such as Netflix, as well as Quebec’s tendency to favour “made-in-Quebec” content, which is more prevalent in traditional media than digital.

Media Technology Monitor Junior surveyed approximately 2,500 Canadian children with questions surrounding time, consumption and frequency spent with audio, video, gaming and social networking and TV services.