What Students Are Actually Doing Online

Youtube Safety Mode, online safety, Youtube for schools, safe social media, safe search, cyberbullying

Curious as to how children are spending their time online?  So are we.  We surveyed 400+ students to find out just how kids ages 9-18 are using their display devices.

On average, students spend about 5-10 hours per day on their device(s) (smartphone, iPad, laptop, etc).  This of course varies by age group: we found that younger teens (aged 13-15) spend the most time in front of their screens in comparison to other age groups.  Children typically receive their first cell phone around age 12, which explains this heightened usage distribution.

Students from around the world reported using their devices for the following activities (time allocation in descending order): Social Media, Schoolwork, Entertainment, Gaming.


Facebook is the most visited social media network, used even by children younger than the age restriction.  Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr also have a large following of adolescent subscribers.  These sites are intended to be a harmless way to connect with peers.  However, 1/3 of our survey participants experienced cyberbullying and 43% of students have been harassed online according to a recent DoSomething.org nationwide study.

Common Sense Media outlines the top social media websites/apps of 2016 and what to be aware of for online safety purposes.


As technology becomes fully integrated into the classroom and 1:1 programs are on the rise, students have reason to spend even more time online.  Students use search engines and databases for research projects, and sites like Khan Academy for video walkthroughs of educational material.

However, 53.6% of students admitted to being sidetracked half of the time while working on school assignments –distributing this “procrastination time” among the other three activities.


Kids are especially adept at surfing YouTube.  Five minutes spent browsing the site can easily turn into a few hours.  The related search algorithm automatically delivers a multitude of videos for the user, based on their search history.  YouTube offers tutorials, funny videos, music, and really anything you can think of.  According to  “What Kids Are Really Watching on YouTube”,  children are spending most of their time watching gaming tutorials, fashion/make up bloggers, Minecraft, and “challenge videos” (i.e. the “Cinnamon Challenge”, in which YouTubers try to eat an entire spoonful of cinnamon at one time).

TV/movie streaming sites such as Netlifx, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are also popular among youth.  Instant access to entire TV series listings allows kids to finish an entire season in one sitting, called “binge watching”.


Lastly, children –especially younger audiences– tend to use their devices for online gaming. Top game sites include Nick.com, PBS Kids, CoolMathGames, and GirlsGoGames.  Among older users, free-to-play multiplayer online battle games like “League of Legends” are common.

Many of these sites do include safety features (including safe search, restricted mode, YouTube Restricted Mode, etc.) and parental controls.  See the Parental Control Quick Guide for tips on how to enable these built-in functions.

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