Kids and Co-viewing. Is It A Screen Thing?

Posted on: Thursday 05 July 2012 5:58pm

Blogged by Becky Coe

Produced by Shazia Ali, Qualitative Research Consultant.


Jo Cliff, Managing Director

Rachel Hoy, Director, Platypus Research

View the Platypus slide deck.

An up to date, real life portrayal of what ‘co-viewing’ means in the context of kids’ lives today and what the implications are for kids’ media content in the future.

I arrived eager at the scene to be presented with a goody bag. Equipped with jelly beans and a cute flower shaped highlighter I was ready to find out about ‘co-viewing’ (parents and kids watching tv together).

So… Co-viewing, is it changing?

The team at Platypus have compiled research from literature reviews, statistics, online surveys, going into homes and tracking families, and asking the experts. The results are contemplative, co-viewing is changing, but for better or worse?

Traditionally “Enjoy and learn together” was the big pull. Families would gather around in the evening and enjoy the limited form of entertainment together. Fast forward to the 90’s – and a new definition of co-viewing arises. New multimedia tasking is born, OnDemand means we can catch a programme when we like, people are more likely to multi-task whilst watching TV, using tablets, laptops and smart phones. The time for snuggling up at home is fleeting, we can use these things anywhere, anytime, with anyone. The teamed penned the term “the virtual sofa”, it’s no longer watch with mother, it’s watch with the world! Sharing content with each other in the virtual world as we watch in the living room.

So things are changing, why do we care? Is modern co-viewing a good or bad thing?

The argument begins here, we were shown a short film of what families really think, the pros and the cons.

Jo thinks YES, social media is a good thing.

It turns out, people still do like to watch TV together, it makes them feel part of a family. Co-viewing is social, emotional and educational, enabling families to bond and spend some time with their kids before they finally reach young angst and leave home. People are still co-viewing, only social media is now adding to that process, could that really be a bad thing? Social media extends the conversation, or is even a conversation starter for further connection. We’ve all (or maybe most of us) watched X factor and had a massive rant on Facebook afterwards.

Rachel thinks NO, social media is a bad thing.

Social media causes isolation, people are losing the art of conversation. We may be in the same room together, but are we really engaging with each other on this universal plane, or the epic expanse of the virtual world? Half of TV viewing is co-viewing, but what about the other half? Most families are no longer confined to one TV, Mum is in the kitchen watching a soap, dad is in the living room watching football, brother is upstairs playing xbox, sister is in her room on her phone, does this eradicate a sense of family? We might be co-viewing, but are we co-enjoying and conversing, or are we in the same room in body but not in mind?

Our turn to decide…

The room is put to a vote and it all feels a little bit “Can’t cook Won’t cook” with the double sided paper being held up by all…

Team Rach prevails, the room seems to feel we are unbalanced, but the good outweighs the bad.

All in all, social media enhances the ability to discuss, share and encourage family viewing, but it stunts conversation and social interaction on a traditional basis. We are moving with the times, and so is co-viewing, but the question of good or bad still seems to prevail.

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