Screaming vloggers and dull videos: our kids have turned their backs on their former favourite site in favour of new distractions.
One name has always created the most buzz among our Trendspotter kids: YouTube. Over the past three years of weekly interviews with our panel (aged 9-12), we’ve heard how our kids were fascinated by daredevil stunts, tickled by trying not to laugh challenges, mesmerised by slime videos and in awe of vloggers.
Everything. The past six months has seen a giant shift in the digital landscape for gaming, streaming and apps. While we still see YouTube fuelling kids’ interests in hobbies such as crafts and gaming (and they LOVE an animal video), few standout channels or vloggers are mentioned and the platform isn’t enjoying the attention it used to. Our kids reveal why.
1. Cooler channels have taken over
TikTok elbowed YouTube out of the way when it burst on to the scene in autumn last year, making a huge impression on our kids with its short, snappy videos:
‘I don't really use it [YouTube], I get bored watching it and use TikTok instead. With YouTube you have to watch 15 minutes but on TikTok it's only 15 seconds.’ Lily
The lip-synch app, formerly Musical.ly, claims to have more than 250 million daily active users. TikTok’s focussed videos tap into current trends from Little Mix videos to viral dances, making it a sure-fire hit with our kids.
2. Gaming is king
A golden period of gaming, riding on a wave of Minecraft and Fortnite, and the launch of FIFA 19 and the new Apex Legends, has meant kids can take advantage of better gameplay and more creativity as companies strive to grab market share. Josh sums up the excitement:
‘There's a new game – Apex Legends. It's better than Fortnite and Fifa 19. I had a sleepover at my friend's house and he had it. It's got good graphics, it's more realistic and there's a skin you can use to trick people ‘cos it changes.’
We rarely see such a buzz generated around YouTube, with few standout channels or vloggers mentioned.
3. Netflix rules
Game-changer Netflix has created the most buzz with our Trendspotters and gets mentioned across all age groups.
‘We finally have Netflix – on Nan's account – all my friends had it. There's lots more on it and different variety.’ Max
Netflix has replaced YouTube for 'lean-back' viewing, for our kids. It’s edgy, it’s cool and it has the freedom and budget to target them with high-quality programming that’s tailored to their interests. Plus the service provides limitless fodder for binge-watch fans, enabling kids to view shows how they want.
Netflix gains popularity all the time. It’s estimated to have a 37 percent share of the world’s internet users and the amount of kids choosing Netflix as their favourite app/website doubled in this year’s Childwise Monitor Report
4. It’s just not grown up enough
No longer satisfied with typical YouTuber challenges like gummy verses real food, between the ages of 9 and 10 our kids start looking for more sophisticated content.
They’re growing up and growing out of the endless videos served on the site:
‘The Ingham family are so boring, it’s the same videos all the time. Morgz is boring and silly. He’s always screaming like JoJo Siwa.’ Kamiyah
We know many of our kids are watching content that’s aimed above their age group, such as new Netflix show Friday Night Dinner.
Vloggers mucking about with slime? That’s for ‘kids’!
5. Kids want to be challenged
Kids don’t want to work hard to find content so they’ll tend to view what pops up on screen:
‘I only watch what comes up on my YouTube recommends. I can’t be bothered searching for anything,’ Theo, 9
YouTube algorithms serving kids the same type of content eventually leads to boredom. Whereas on Netflix the content is broader, so they may see shows popping up aimed at older kids, that push boundaries, with scarier and more challenging themes:
‘I watched [The Walking Dead] with my aunt – they were pulling a carriage over glass and all the zombies were trying to get them.’ Kamiyah
Can YouTube compete?
Although YouTube continues to dominate viewing among kids worldwide, as their preferences broaden they’re looking elsewhere to fulfil their entertainment needs – whether that’s exciting thrillers on Netflix or challenging gaming on Fortnite.
YouTube has been heavily criticised for its inappropriate content, including dangerous challenges such as Bird Box. The stories of Momo – a scary doll-like character popping up in videos telling kids to harm themselves – haven’t helped (one of our kids still refuses to look at YouTube due to this).
Of course, YouTube’s main draw is that it’s free (for now – the subscription service could mean popular vloggers disappear behind a paywall). Added to this is the fact the site provides ample coverage of trends kids love, with its TikTok compilation and Fortnite gameplay videos.
Will YouTube regain status with our kids? Can anything outshine Netflix? Find out by signing up to our fortnightly trend reports, see below …
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Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.
Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from Beano.com – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 80 years of working with kids. Sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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