Quarter of 5-year-olds watch TikTok videos that ‘blur fact and fiction’

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Ofcom finds children prefer ‘split screen’ viewing of unrelated videos and also use social media in an increasingly passive way

Person holding phone and looking at woman dancing in video posted on social media
CREDIT: Getty Images/iStockphoto

One quarter of five to seven-year-olds are using TikTok, according to a new report that revealed the startling effects of social media use on children’s attention spans.

Once they reach eight years of age and above, the latest trend is for “split screen” viewing: social media posts featuring two, often unrelated, videos playing at the same time.

They appeal to young people who are so used to consuming television while simultaneously scrolling on their phones or tablets that they are no longer comfortable watching one thing at a time.

Children are drawn to “dramatic” content online and videos made by professional “influencers” but often fail to distinguish between what is real and what is fake. “For the children in this study, it often seems that it matters more whom something has been said by than whether it’s true,” Ofcom said in its annual Children’s Media Lives report.

The authors of the study said: “Much of the content the children were consuming seemed designed to maximise stimulation and minimise the investment required of them. Videos were fast-paced, short-form, with deliberately choppy editing.


Quarter of 5-year-olds watch TikTok videos that ‘blur fact and fiction’

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