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  1. ITV Report

Iconic 90s sitcom Friends is most popular programme with under 16s

The cast of Friends in 1998. Credit: AP

Friends, a series approaching its 25th anniversary, is the favourite programme of children under 16.

Despite being the most connected generation ever, children aged between five and 16 are as hooked on the iconic 90s sitcom as their parents' generation since it started streaming on Netflix, according to the Childwise Monitor report.

Childwise believe there are "multiple" reasons for the enduring popularity of the show among such a young audience, not least because it taps into a resurgence of 90s nostalgia.

Crucially, the sitcom's availability on Netflix means that it can be watched anytime, anywhere - and on any device.

Childwise research director Simon Leggett said: "Children are all over Netflix – they can watch it virtually whenever and wherever they like, from beginning to end in order and with ease, in a way that they couldn’t before it was on Netflix (when it was previously only on Comedy Central) unless they broke out their parents’ old DVD boxsets."

Around three in ten children say they have missed sleep and felt tired because they have spent too long online. Credit: PA

Friends, which follows a group of New Yorkers through their loves and lives, was a huge hit in the 90s and made stars of the previously unknown cast, including Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer.

Mr Leggett said the sitcom's focus on friendships and relationships may be "relatable" and "aspirational" to young people.

"(They) seemingly almost never worry about ‘adult’ things like rent, bills, and jobs (and when they do, it’s rarely in a serious way and they have each other for support)," he suggested.

"Generation Scroll" may be hooked on Friends, but young people are feeling increasingly lonely, according to the report.

This year saw an rise in the number of children who feel lonely, as well as an more nine to 16 year olds who wish they could spend more time unplugged from their connected devices.

This would perhaps explain why it is not just pre-digital age TV programmes that young people are seeking out - three quarters of children are still keen on playing the old favourites like Snap, Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders.