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France's Children and Teens Are Super-Connected

Media device usage among kids and teens is rising sharply

April 22, 2015

Young people between the ages of 1 and 19 aren’t the primary target audience for manufacturers or retailers of PCs, smartphones and tablets in France. But members of this cohort are very active gadget users nonetheless—and increasingly own their own digital devices, according to the “Junior Connect 2015” report published by children’s publishers Bayard, Milan and Disney Hachette Presse.

Average Weekly Time Spent Online Among Child/Teen Internet Users in France, by Age, 2012 & 2015 (hrs:mins)

The report is based on 4,000 interviews conducted by Ipsos in France between June and November 2014. Parents of children ages 1 to 6 answered questions on the child’s behalf. Children ages 7 to 12 gave their own answers in the presence of a parent, while 13- to 19-year-olds answered on their own.

France’s young people are amply supplied with media devices, the study found. Television remained the most widespread; 95% of all respondents had at least one in their home. Counting both household and personal ownership, 78% of children and teens ages 1 to 19 had access to a smartphone this year, and 74% were expected to use a desktop computer. An even greater percentage (83%) should have access to a portable PC, and 62% of households in France will likely have a tablet, compared with 46% in 2014. An estimated 22% of homes were expected to have a touchscreen tablet designed for children.

On the whole, people ages 13 to 19 in France registered higher penetration of media devices than younger residents. But there was one exception—apart from the tablet designed for children: This year, penetration of mainstream tablets such as the iPad and Galaxy Tab was expected to be higher among 7- to 12-year-olds, at 66%, than in the oldest age group (62%), according to the study. eMarketer doesn’t calculate tablet penetration in France by age group, but does estimate that 24.3 million people of all ages—half of all internet users—will use a tablet at least once per month this year.

Personal ownership of several devices was common, too, Ipsos found—even among relatively young children. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of 7- to 12-year-olds in France had a game console, for example, compared with 73% of teens ages 13 to 19. Some 12% of the younger group owned a smartphone, and 17% had their own TV. And tablets had scored a big success in this cohort: 29% of 7- to 12-year-olds had their own—the same percentage as in the 13-to-19 bracket.

Until youngsters reach their teens, the internet doesn’t figure in their top three activities. Even in the 13-to-19 age bracket, 61% said their favorite pastime was being with their friends. But going online was the second most popular, at 55%—ahead of listening to music (49%).

Once online, teens in France clocked up an average of 13.5 hours using the internet each week, the study reported. Daily access time was greatest during weekends, averaging 164 minutes. More than one-quarter (27%) of respondents said they spent at least 4 hours on the web daily during Saturday and Sunday. But online time was also relatively high (118 minutes) on Wednesdays, when youngsters in France have a shorter school day. By contrast, 44% spent no more than an hour online on normal school days.

Predictably, time online rose in direct correlation with age. Children ages 1 to 6 were expected to spend an average 3 hours, 40 minutes on the internet weekly this year. Among those 7 to 12, the average should rise to 5.5 hours—but the average for teens was expected to be more than double that.

Attitudes Toward Digital Ads Among Child vs. Teen Internet Users in France, 2014 & 2015 (% of respondents in each group)

Many children and teens already have conscious attitudes to internet advertising. For one thing, they’re aware that advertisers typically present a tradeoff between viewing ads and receiving benefits. Presented with a number of statements about online ads, respondents in all age groups were most likely to agree that seeing those ads enabled them to access additional content on their smartphone or tablet. Almost half of teens agreed with this, while 43% agreed that ads allowed them to win gifts and points in the course of a game or competition. In addition, at least one-third of teens agreed that internet ads made them laugh, helped them discover new products and enabled them to share or discuss products with friends and family. A similar number said online ads allowed them to learn more about products and brands.

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