Pew: Majority Turning to YouTube for Some Kids Content

A new Pew Research survey has found that a large majority (81%) of parents turn to YouTube for kids content, about half go to it for how to do stuff they don't know how to do, and a minority turn to it for news.

That kids content finding could buttress Republican FCC member assertions that they can loosen rules on broadcast kids content because parents and kids are increasingly looking over the top for content, as well as arguments by kids TV advocates that YouTube needs to better monitor the child-targeted portions of its site.

Pew says it polled a "nationally representative" sample of 4,500 adults. Of those, 51% said YouTube provided important how-to information, while 19% said it was helpful in their understanding of what was happening in the world. 

That last finding could raise flags with those worried about fake news and election meddling online, though the survey also found that respondents recognized that they could not believe everything they saw. About two-thirds (64%) said they at least sometimes accessed YouTube videos that seemed obviously false or untrue, while 60% recognized that some of the videos were of "dangerous or troubling" behavior.

Pew also studied the sites recommendation algorithm and found that the recommendations encouraged viewers to watch progressively longer videos, from 9 minutes to almost 12 minutes to almost 15 minutes by the fifth video recommendation.

That study looked at 696,468 "total encounters" resulting in 346,086 unique recommended videos. That study of recommended video also reinforced the prominence of children's content on YouTube, said Pew. "Of the 50 individual videos that were recommended most often during the analysis, 11 of them were determined by researchers to be oriented toward children, based on their content."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio WorldTV TechTV FaxThis Week in Consumer ElectronicsVariety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.