Nielsen Online: Kids Flocking to the Web

Nielsen Online has confirmed something that most parents likely already know all too well: kids are coming online in droves—at a faster rate than the general Web population—and are spending more and more entertainment time with the digital medium.

Over the past five years the kids Web universe has swelled by 18 percent, versus just a 10 percent growth rate seen in the relative mature general Web population, per Nielsen. As of May this year, the kids 2-11 audience had reached 16 million, or 9.5 percent of the active online universe.

That growth spurt is particularly noteworthy since its happened during a period where the number of kids under 14 in the U.S. declined by one percent (from July 2004 to July 2009, per the U.S. Census Bureau).

But even more eye-catching than the growth in the kids Web audience is its heavy surge in usage when compared to the rest of the Web. Across the board, the average Web user has been spending lots more time with the Internet—overall time spent is up 36 percent in the past fives year, per Nielsen.

But kids are living online. Time spent among kids has soared by 63 percent over the past five years, as kids are increasingly drawn to watching videos and playing games—and even more so than adults, visiting virtual worlds

According to Nielsen, kids 2-11 spent nearly seven hours online per month five years ago, versus 11 hours a month in 2009, with boys spending slightly more time on average than girls (seven percent more this past May). That usage disparity is perhaps most evident in online video viewing, as boys accounted for 61 percent of video streams among kids on the Web and 57 percent of kids time spent viewing videos.

However, the kids online video landscape–once dominated by kids TV players Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney–is changing, as options for kids and digital media buyers abound