Children in the UK are spending more time on the internet than in front of the TV for the first time, according to new research into the media habits of under-16s.
Research firm Childwise found that on average five- to 15-year-olds were spending three hours a day using the internet, compared to 2.1 hours watching TV.
The amount of time children spend in front of a television screen has been declining steadily from a high of three hours in 2000/2001 and was at 2.3 hours last year. However, time online has seen a huge surge according to the research, up 50% from two hours last year.
That compares to time spent reading books for pleasure, which has declined from an hour a day on average in 2012 to just over half an hour on average this year.
The research, which is based on an online survey of more than 2,000 children, did not distinguish between TV-like services on the internet, such as Netflix and iPlayer, and other forms of browsing such as Facebook, meaning it is unclear whether children are merely watching shows in different ways.
However, the report says that YouTube has taken â€œcentre stage in childrenâ€™s livesâ€ with half accessing it every day and almost all using it at least occasionally.
The majority of children who use YouTube visit the site to access music videos (58%), while around half watch â€œfunny contentâ€ and a third say they watch gaming content, vlogs, TV programmes or â€œhow toâ€ videos.
The most popular vlogger reported in the survey was Zoella, with 15% of those surveyed saying she was their favourite online video star. She was especially popular with children aged 11 to 12, said Childwise.
Childwiseâ€™s findings are broadly in line with those from Ofcom, which reported last summer that the average time children were spending watching TV had fallen to under two hours a day as they switch to online services.
Childwise research director Simon Leggett described the shift as a â€œlandmark change in behaviourâ€ brought on by â€œblurring of television contentâ€ between devices.
â€œTV viewing has been redefined,â€ he said. â€œChildren are now seeking out the content of their choice. They still find traditional TV programmes engaging but are increasingly watching them online and on-demand or binge watching box sets.â€
The study also found that more children now live in households with a tablet than any other web-connected device such as a laptop, with four in five saying there is a tablet at home, and more than two-thirds say they have their own tablet. Three quarters of children say they have access to the internet in their room, up from under two-thirds a year ago.