The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released important research into the television viewing patterns of children tracking back to 2001 (when the ACMA conducted its first research in this series).

The Children’s Television Viewing research shows that children, especially young children, are keen watchers of programs specifically made for them.

The research also shows that, typically, parents choosing a television channel or program for their child primarily consider the appropriateness of the content. Parents also take into account whether their child ‘likes’ a channel or program, as well as the time at which a program is shown.

Other key findings from the research, comprising community surveys and ratings analysis, include:
> Preschool children, under five, spend more time watching free-to-air television than older children.
> Programs made for children are most commonly watched by children four and under.
> Nine in 10 children under 15 watch children’s programming on television.
> Most children aged 5-12 watch programs on commercial television, comprising a mix of reality, light entertainment, movies and children’s programs.
Of the overall top-rating programs watched by children under five on free-to-air television, excluding sport, most were watched on dedicated ABC children’s channels.

This research comprises two studies into children’s viewing of broadcast television:
> a community survey of parents and carers
> an analysis of children’s television audiences and program ratings between 2001 and 2013.

The first study, Children’s television viewing—Community research 2014, is a survey of 954 parents and carers of children under 15, commissioned by the ACMA from Newspoll. This study offers a contemporary view of parental attitudes to children’s viewing patterns and behaviours.

The second study, Children’s television viewing—Analysis of audience data 2001–13, draws on audience data provided by the industry ratings agency, OzTAM.This study focuses on free-to-air and subscription television viewing by children in five metropolitan cities of Australia (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney). The data includes live and time-shifted viewing for broadcast television, but does not include online viewing of catch-up television services.

By comparing audience data over 13 years, this study identifies the longer term changes that have occurred in children’s viewing patterns.

The ACMA has also released an Overview paper which draws out key findings on the two studies on children’s television viewing.

This 13-year period has coincided with significant changes in Australia’s television viewing, with the introduction of digital television, catch-up viewing and, more recently, the availability of online and over-the-top viewing experiences. The ACMA is monitoring changes in the industry and content delivery more broadly to see how they will affect audience viewing over time.

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