A study of mobile phone use amongst 10-12 year olds indicates that Mobile TV will enhance the current role of mobile phones amongst children in respect of facilitating social networking and offering an exciting new way to watch their favourite programmes.
Market research firm Quaestor carried out the research, which began with an exploratory qualitative study of 12 friendship pairs conducted in-home. The sample was split across boys and girls aged 10, 11 and 12 in the north and south of England. The outcomes of this stage of the study helped develop a list of questions for a follow-up quantitative stage of 300 online questionnaires, again completed by 10-12 year olds.
The study highlighted a strong emotional attachment to phones even at this young age. They were seen to give users independence, freedom and security and helped create the social environment in which children live.
Mobile ownership increased with age and, although there were no major differences in behaviour and attitudes between boys and girls, they did each show a preference for different potential content, with sport more popular amongst boys and soaps more popular with girls. Entertainment channels such as E4 were equally popular.
Its clear from our research that Mobile TV is the next big thing that children will adopt and add to the repertoire of technologies they already use says Quaestors Shazia Ali. However, it will not replace traditional TV viewing just as listening to music via mobiles has not replaced MP3 players but rather provided another channel through which to enjoy it.
According to Ali, the two challenges facing producers and distributors are content and duration.
Current viewing patterns reflect childrens desire for short and snappy, humorous content which can be shared with others she says. Cartoons, music videos and sports highlights are the real favourites, whereas longer programmes like soaps represent a greater challenge via this medium. Kids love the idea of being able to catch up on soaps and programmes like Big Brother so they dont feel left out in peer group conversations. They expect the same range of mobile channels as they watch at home and especially want to access their favourite programmes from their phones.
A further concern for Mobile TV content developers flagged up by the study is the need to reassure parents on security and safety. Although choice and freedom appeal to children, these same factors are a concern for parents, Quaestor says. In this respect, the company believes,there may well be lessons to learn from the online industry in areas such as restricted access.