A study tracking children’s media behaviour in the UK has shown that the younger generations spend more time playing and socialising online than watching television programmes.

Staff at the research agency Childwise have described this phenomenon as a “landmark change”.

Those who watch TV on a regular basis showed that the demand service Netflix was more popular than any TV channel.

There was also a surge in children’s tablet ownership, up by 50% compared with last year.

The report was based on a sample of more than 2,000 five to 16-year-olds, and has been tracking the viewing habits of children since the mid-1990s.

This year’s findings from Childwise have been claimed to be the tipping point with children switching from conventional TV to spending time online. The average time spent online is now three hours per day, compared with 2.1 hours watching television.

Among the numerous TV services, Netflix emerged as the most popular choice – overtaking all conventional channels. When asked about their viewing in the previous week, 50% had watched programmes on Netflix, compared with 47% for ITV1 and 46% for BBC1, the most popular television channels.

The most common way for young children to access the internet is the mobile phone (with almost every teenager having a smartphone), and for the first time, tablets have overtaken computer and laptop usage.

This is unsurprising, as the study showed a sharp rise in access to tablet computers, owned by 67% of young adults and children, with Apple’s iPad by far the most widespread.

Also unsurprisingly, the study showed that when young people are accessing the internet, YouTube is by far the most dominant destination.

It has also been revealed that the most popular game to be played online is Minecraft, as it easily passes more than 200,000 concurrent players every day. Other high ranking games include League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter Strike: GO, all of which have a combined concurrent player count of around 1.5 million. Last year, Minecraft passed its 1 million concurrent player mark, and has over 22 million copies sold worldwide.

The study suggests that there are some technologies being left behind.

CD players are now becoming scarce, with younger people using mobile phones for music. It would be fair to say that pretty soon, they’ll join the VHS in the banks of archaic tech.

“Children are now seeking out the content of their choice,” says Simon Leggett, research director for Childwise, “They still find traditional TV programmes engaging but are increasingly watching them online, and on demand or binge watching box sets.”