A new report by parental controls company Qustodio reveals that children in the UK are emerging as some of the heaviest users of TikTok globally, spending an average of over two hours per day on the popular social media app. The study highlights a significant increase from the previous year, with British children spending an average of 127 minutes daily on TikTok in 2021, marking an 11% surge. This growing trend underscores the evolving digital landscape for young users and prompts discussions about responsible screen time management and online safety.
TikTok Usage Trends
- Surpassing Global Averages: The report indicates that British children’s TikTok usage surpasses global averages, with UK users spending more time on the app compared to the global average of 112 minutes per day for children aged four to 18.
- Doubling Since 2020: The data reveals a substantial increase in TikTok usage since 2020 when children spent approximately 70 minutes daily on the platform. This near-doubling in usage within two years emphasizes TikTok’s growing influence among young audiences in the UK.
Comparative App Usage
- Roblox Competes Closely: While TikTok dominates, the gaming platform Roblox comes close in popularity, with British under-18s spending an average of 125 minutes per day on the virtual world-building game. Global data from Roblox suggests an even higher average of up to 2.5 hours daily for its players worldwide.
- Messaging App Preferences: Snapchat emerges as the most popular messaging app among UK children, with an average daily usage of around 95 minutes. In comparison, Instagram sees approximately 40 minutes of daily use, while Facebook averages just 15 minutes among the same age group. YouTube records an average of 66 minutes per day.
Screen Time Debates and Safety Concerns
- Ongoing Screen Time Debates: The study addresses the ongoing debates surrounding children’s screen time, with the data revealing that children spend an average of four hours per day on phones, tablets, games, or computers outside of school hours, consistent with the previous year.
- Online Safety Considerations: The findings prompt discussions about online safety, with concerns over potential exposure to harmful content on the internet. The UK government is contemplating additional curbs on social media apps, including stricter parental controls for users under 16.
Study on Screen Time Impact
- Oxford Internet Institute Findings: Contrary to concerns, a study by the Oxford Internet Institute published in November found “no evidence” of significant impact on children’s cognitive development or well-being based on brain scans from 12,000 children aged 9 to 12. This study contributes to the ongoing dialogue about the nuanced effects of screen time on children’s development.
The Qustodio report sheds light on the changing digital habits of UK children, with TikTok emerging as a dominant force in their daily online experiences. As the debate on screen time and online safety continues, parents, educators, and policymakers face the challenge of striking a balance that promotes responsible technology use while safeguarding children from potential risks.