Children’s media lives: Wave 5



Wave 5 of our pioneering longitudinal study of children’s media and technology habits, highlighting a range of complex social issues to help Ofcom stay ahead of the game.
The fifth wave of the Children’s Media Lives study draws on filmed interviews and ethnographic techniques as used in previous waves, and supplements these with screen recording, social media tracking and 360 filming techniques. These enable the research to get beyond what children say to provide evidence of what they are actually doing.


The study provides an in-depth understanding of how a sample of 18 children, aged 8-18, are thinking about and using digital media, and how this differs and is influenced by age, life-stage, family circumstances, peer groups and wider society. It explores how digital media use evolves over time as children develop, and in response to offline factors such as new schools, friendships, and access to new technologies.

This research found that in 2018:

• Children are consuming media in ways that are more solitary than ever
• They are more self-regulated, with some managing how much time they spend on social media themselves
• The content children post is more curated, they appear to be more reserved about what they post online
• Some appear to be more image-conscious this year, using specific filters with aesthetic, rather than funny effects
• Children seemed to discuss the inappropriate content they were seeing more openly with researchers than in previous years’