Behavior Tracking

  |   6 Min Read

Unique Insights Into How Kids Interact with Online Video Content

People love video, especially kids. Online videos are increasingly used to influence and teach young children. This brings both opportunities and challenges to the organizations seeking the attention of a rapidly evolving young audience.

To better understand online video interaction, Luth Research used their ZQ Intelligence™ software to collect data from parents and their children (2-6 years of age) for one month as they visited YouTube. One 5-minute quantitative survey was taken at the midpoint of the digital tracking, and a 15-minute final survey was administered once the tracking period had ended. The most interesting insights into the audience’s behaviors, motivations, and perceptions are detailed below.


Survey results showed that parents and children primarily watched online video content on tablets and PCs, rather than smartphones. That preference, however, does not preclude multitasking during videos: 4 out of every 10 children watch TV while watching online videos, and nearly half use a smartphone at the same time. Capturing and holding children’s attention remains a struggle.

But piquing audience interest in video content isn’t the only concern. Commercials are also largely avoided by YouTube users. Half of children and parents select the “Skip Ad” button to begin viewing their videos right away. Although this could be interpreted as excitement and impatience to start watching a favorite show, it is still a missed opportunity for advertisers. With 26% of parents claiming that their children ask about products or services, they’ve seen in a YouTube commercial, ensuring that ads are viewed could be an excellent way to reach this young target market. Over 50% of parents also said that they would pay attention to commercials if they featured children’s entertainment or toys.


Advertisers, marketers, and programmers should not be surprised to know that parental concerns about content play a significant role in children’s viewing habits. Ultimately, parents are more comfortable with children watching television unsupervised (77%) than YouTube (45%). As a result, parents think their children are only ready to watch YouTube by themselves at five years of age, versus four-and-a-half years of age for television.

Their biggest worries with YouTube are the suitability of online music videos, movie trailers, and advertisements. On the other hand, YouTube videos defined as children’s shows cause little parental concern, with 77% of parents feeling “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with their kids viewing these videos. Kid-specific channels are considered more trustworthy, and parents see videos on these channels as more likely to offer age-appropriate educational information.


Clearly, building trust with parents is essential for marketers and programmers to gain access to a young viewership. If parents don’t feel confident about video content, they simply won’t take the risk and let their children watch it. YouTube channels that cater to growing kids’ needs are much more likely to be viewed. The key is to create the kind of content that parents will approve of and children will enjoy.

Twenty-nine percent of parents would like to see more online video content on math and counting, social skills and values, and reading. Some parents (14%) even highlighted an interest in full episodes as opposed to short clips. By providing this content, programmers would gain parental approval and, consequently, a larger young viewership.


Companies and other organizations seeking access to an audience of young children must comply with age-appropriate guidelines. Not only that, but content should aim to educate and interest kids. If it does, children will be allowed to watch it and learn from it. With any luck, they’ll even stay tuned for the whole video, the one after it, and the commercials in between.


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