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QUSTODIO ANNUAL DATA REPORT 2020

Online video apps

This page is chapter 1  in a five-chapter series of app categories included in the Qustodio Annual Data Report on children’s digital habits during the year 2020.

RESEARCH BY APP CATEGORY

Online video apps

What we found

Propelled by the need for entertainment during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and by discounts from rivaling online video companies, 2020 was the year millions of families signed up for new or additional video services – Netflix added 25 million new subscribers in the first half of 2020 alone. In terms of popularity in our analysis, this streaming war hurt dominant services like YouTube and helped new entrants like Disney Plus (launched in the US in 2019, and in the UK and Spain in 2020).

Just as online video subscriptions surged, so did the amount of time kids spent using them, up 25% on average for the year and peaking in the spring with the lockdowns. As restrictions relaxed later in the year, time on videos did too. But kids were still streaming videos via their apps throughout the day, not just in the peak after school hours like they did pre-Covid.

What were the most popular online video apps among kids?

YouTube continued to be the most popular online video app among kids by far, nearly twice as popular as its closest rival, Netflix. Nevertheless, YouTube and YouTube Kids popularity dropped globally and across all regions. Netflix’s po- pularity remained stable globally and in the US, and grew 14% in the UK and 21% in Spain. Twitch had steady growth in all markets, especially in Spain where its popularity grew 150%. But the star was Disney Plus. Unranked in 2019, by 2020 Disney Plus had become the third most popular app in the US and fourth globally, in the UK and Spain. Regional players such as Hulu in the US, BBC iPlayer in the UK and, and Movistar+ in Spain, remained among the most popular apps of 2020.

How much time did kids spend watching online video apps?

Despite YouTube and YouTube Kids drop in popularity, they were still the apps kids used to watch videos the longest. For example, they watched YouTube 40% longer (and YouTube kids nearly 50% longer) than Disney Plus, nearly 70% longer than Netflix, nearly 80% longer than Hulu, and more than 100% longer than Twitch. They also watched both YouTube and YouTube kids approximately 30% longer in 2020 than they did in 2019.
Globally, kids spent an average of 45 mins/ day watching videos online. Children in the US watched the most, on average 48 mins/day. In Spain, kids watched online videos the least, hitting as low as 24 mins/day in December, a reflection of many kids being back to school in person in that region.

What time of day did kids watch online videos?

Before the pandemic, kids used online video apps mostly between 3pm and 8pm, the ty- pical after school hours until bedtime. By the arrival of the Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring, those habits changed dramatically. Suddenly kids were watching videos the whole day, from 10am to 10pm. By the end of the year, total activity was down, even lower than pre- Covid levels, but the connected-all-day-long pattern remained.

What time of day did kids watch online videos?

Before the pandemic, kids used online video apps mostly between 3pm and 8pm, the ty- pical after school hours until bedtime. By the arrival of the Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring, those habits changed dramatically. Suddenly kids were watching videos the whole day, from 10am to 10pm. By the end of the year, total activity was down, even lower than pre- Covid levels, but the connected-all-day-long pattern remained.

Which online video apps did parents block most?

In 2020, parents blocked the same online video as in 2019, with the exception of the Disney Plus. The new-comer in online video streaming jumped high onto the most blocked list, just as it did for popularity. Parents blocked YouTube and Netflix more than any other online video app. Surprisingly, parents blocked YouTube Kids the least, despite it being the online video app kids spent the most time on. Parents in every region were also likely to block Twitch, a video app that received press in July when a teenager emptied $20,000 out of his mothers bank account to buy virtual goods and make donations to various Twitch streamers.

What we expect

In 2021, we expect the streaming wars to continue. As a result, YouTube’s lead in online video will likely continue to diminish. We also expect each of the most popular apps in our list to look more and more like each other. Amazon-owned live-streaming Twitch will have more static content like YouTube, and YouTube will become more ‘Twitch-like’. Disney Plus recently added parental control based on age and verification making it more similar to the Netflix model.

In terms of time watching videos, as long as kids aren’t in school in person, we expect that all-day-long curve of connectedness to continue. Nevertheless, we don’t expect to see the massive peak in online video we saw with the Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring, because time learning online will take away at least some of the time from viewing online.

What we expect

In 2021, we expect the streaming wars to continue. As a result, YouTube’s lead in online video will likely continue to diminish. We also expect each of the most popular apps in our list to look more and more like each other. Amazon-owned live-streaming Twitch will have more static content like YouTube, and YouTube will become more ‘Twitch-like’. Disney Plus recently added parental control based on age and verification making it more similar to the Netflix model.

In terms of time watching videos, as long as kids aren’t in school in person, we expect that all-day-long curve of connectedness to continue. Nevertheless, we don’t expect to see the massive peak in online video we saw with the Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring, because time learning online will take away at least some of the time from viewing online.

What we recommend

While native parental controls for online video apps are improving, especially in the online video sector, they are still pretty minimal and change frequently, and can be hard to keep track of as you jump from one service to another. Also, even the best machine learning combined with human reviewing, cannot catch all inappropriate content, including images that may upset your child, material directed at adults, inaccurate information or fake news, and any content that might lead or tempt your child into unlawful or dangerous behavior. For greater control and stability, we recommend parents use independent parental controls in combination with native controls. On YouTube itself, parents should have their children use a Family Account, turn on Restricted Mode, and Lock Safety Mode. And, no matter which online video app parents use, there is no replacement for co-watching video content together with your children.

In regards to how much time parents should let their children spend watching online videos, it depends on many factors: the child’s age, maturity, digital resilience (how well they can cope with online threats if they occur), how much time they spend doing other activities including school online, what kind of content
they are watching, how susceptible they are to addictive behavior and so on.

If your child has been online all day, we recommend no screen time during the week after school unless it is needed for homework. Save online video watching for the weekend, and whenever possible watch videos together as a family.

Dr. Cecily Dvorak Havert, Primary Care Physician Board Certified in Family Medicine, reminds parents “to protect children’s physical and mental health, make sure kids get physical activity at least 60 minutes a day. That children, especially young kids, are spending more than that amount of time day watching online videos is concerning, especially if that is in addition to other kinds of screen time, or replacing exercise.“

Dr. Nicole Beurkens, holistic family psychologist, worries slightly less about the time and more about the video content itself. ”Parents often don’t realize the harm that unintended exposure to violent or sexual content can cause their children. And, whenever live-streaming is involved, like on Twitch, anything is possible including inappropriate language, images, and scams, to name a few. Just because those activities are against app guidelines doesn’t mean they don’t happen – that’s why to keep kids off of inappropriate apps and truly understand the content of the games your kids play, setting up parental controls and occasional co-watching of online videos are a must.”

Whenever live streaming is involved, like on Twitch,
anything is possible including inappropriate language, images, and scams, to name a few”

Dr. Nicole Beurkens, holistic family psychologist