Canadian kids prefer watching content on bigger screens

Cell phone use among children is quite high, but TV sets are still the most popular way to watch SVOD content like Netflix or Disney+.

The latest findings from MTM Jr. shouldn’t come as a shock for many people: cell phone use and ownership among young Canadians is quite prevalent.

The report, which focuses on the mobile phone usage and media consumption habits of Canadians aged two to 17, found phone use begins at an early age and increases as kids get older, with 60% using a cell phone in the past month and 41% having one of their own.

Smartphones are the most popular multitasking device used by teens aged 12 to 17. They are almost twice as likely to use their smartphones (71%) while watching content than the next most popular device, a computer or laptop (38%). Tablets are used by 28% and game consoles by 7% of teens.

But despite all the hype around video viewing via smartphones, 66% of children and teens prefer watching SVOD services like Netflix or Disney+ on a TV set, with tablets and computers also coming ahead of smartphones. Only 5% of children cited smartphones as their preferred device for watching this type of content. Smartphones also fell behind TV sets, tablets, and computers/laptops as the preferred device for watching YouTube.

Children aged two to six (39%) use a cell phone and this usage increases as they age with 49% of seven to 11-year-olds using a cell phone in the past month, increasing to 87% among teens 12 to 17. Teens are far more likely (81%) to actually own their cell phone themselves, while children are more likely to use a parent’s or sibling’s phone – although 7% of kids ages two to six own a cell phone.

Smartphone brands and service providers vary among children, although 64% of those owning a cell phone own an iPhone, with Samsung ownership coming in a distant second at 24%.

Rogers, Telus and Bell are their top service providers. When it comes to cell phone plans, 41% have a talk, text, and data plan; 34% have a talk and text plan; 19% don’t have a plan, and 5% have a data-only plan. By age group, 21% of children ages two to 11 have talk, text, and data plans, far behind teens, 48% of whom have talk, text, and data plans. However, 42% of children ages two to 11 have no phone plan at all, and just 12% of teens are without a phone plan.