NEWS | 12 Jun 2017

Rapid increase in media use among youth

Every other year, the Swedish Media Council conduct a survey, Ungar & Medier (Children & the media), that maps media use among children and youth in Sweden. The results from the 2016 survey show that the average time spent using media has increased rapidly during the last decade. Those youths that used to be classified as major consumers are more like today’s average consumers. 

Since Ungar & Medier (Children & the media) was first published in 2005, the number of major consumers has more than doubled (major consumer has been used to describe somebody that uses a media type more than 3 hours during an average day). Broken down by age groups and gender, the number of major consumers is even bigger. Seventy-six percent of the 15-year-old girls use their mobile phone more than three hours per day and 79 percent of the 18-year-old boys use Internet more than three hours per day, for example. 

Small children – big Internet users

The use of the Internet is generally increasing. One decade ago, the average age for starting to use the Internet (when more than half of the age group uses the Internet) was nine. In this year’s survey, that age was three. Additionally, 69 percent of the 3-year-olds have used the internet.

Daily use of the Internet is also increasing. Compared to 2014, the most concrete increase can be found among children between 5-8 years old, but it’s increasing even among younger children. Around one quarter of all 4-year-olds are using the Internet daily, for example. 

Graf "använder internet dagligen 2010-2016 i procent", barn 0-8 år.

Image: chart "Daily use of the Internt, 2010-2016 (%), children age 0-8. 


Video blogs increasingly popular 
The number of youths that are watching TV more than 3 hours per day has halved during the last ten years. On the other hand, video bloggers, so called vloggers, have caught on and are now competing with both film and TV among children and youth. 

In the age group 13-16-years-old, 84 percent are following one or several vloggers. Among the 9-12-year-olds that number is 61 percent and among the oldest, 17-18-year-olds, 75 percent are following vloggers. For boys age 13-16 and for girls in all age groups, the most popular vlogger has a bigger audience than the most popular TV programme. 

Image: chart "Are you following any channels, users, vloggers on YouTube, Twitch or similar (%)", children age 9-18 år.  


Parents are positive – but worried
In the report Föräldrar & medier (Parents & the media) the results are showing that parents have more positive than negative attitudes towards film and TV, the Internet and computer games. Computer games is the media type where the number of negative opinions is highest among the parents; it’s seen as addictive, time consuming and possibly leading to bad health.

The results also show that parents are worried that their child will be bullied or threatened on the Internet or via their mobile phone. Women worry, with a few exceptions, to a much greater extent than men when it comes to risks associated with media use. Parents worry more that girls will get in trouble on the Internet than that boys will. 

Parents of children between 13 and 16 years old with a disability said, to a greater extent than average, that their children have been victims of bullying, threats or sexual comments. Thirty-seven percent said that their child has been socially isolated as a result of internet use or gaming (compared to 14 percent in the entire population) and 18 percent said that their child has been contacted by grown-ups searching for sexual contacts on the Internet (compared to 5 percent in the entire population). 


Every second year, Medietilsynet in Norway is doing a smiliar survey of media use among Norwegian children and youth. The survey Barn og medier 2016 (Children and the media, 2016) is showing trends similar to the Swedish one: the average time spent using media has increased generally, but in particular when it comes to digital media. 

Download  Medietilsynets reports Barn og medier 2016 ​(Children and the media 2016) and Småbarn og digitale medier 2016 (Small children and digital media 2016) here: 
Barn og medier 2016 ​(Children and the media 2016) (In Swedish)
Småbarn og digitale medier 2016 (Small children and digital media 2016) (In Swedish) 


About the survey
Ungar & medier (Children & the media) was conducted for the seventh time since 2005, and maps media use – and attitudes – among children between 0-18 years old. This year’s survey is published in three reports: Småungar & medier 2017 (Small children & the media) with children age 0–8, Ungar & medier 2017 (Children & the media 2017) with children and youth age 9–18 and Föräldrar & medier 2017  (Parents & the media 2017), where legal guardians of children between 9-18 years old comment on the media use and experiences of their children.

More on the media use among Swedish population during 2016 can be found in the Media Barometer 2016