Your child was acting up in the car over vacation. Did you happily turn over the iPad or your mobile phone as a diversion from the squabbles and chaos? Feeling fried, did you plug in a video so that your kiddo would quit making demands of you? If so, you’re not alone.
Common Sense Media’s research unit is now tracing the media usage habits of children aged 0 to 8. Specifically, the organization’s new Program for the Study of Children and Media is focusing on how families use media and what it means for kids’ health and well-being. That is the subject of Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America.
The study shows that everything from iPods to smartphones to tablet computers are now a regular part of kids’ lives, with kids under 8 averaging 2 hours a day with all screen media.
- 42 percent of children under 8 years old have a television in their bedroom.
- Half (52 percent) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have access to a new mobile device, such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet.
- More than a third (38 percent) of children this age have used one of these devices, including 10 percent of 0-to 1-year-olds, 39 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds, and more than half (52 percent) of 5- to 8-year-olds.
- In a typical day, one in 10 (11 percent) 0- to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps. Those who do such activities spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing so.
- In addition to the traditional digital divide, a new “app gap” has developed, with only 14 percent of lower-income parents having downloaded new media apps for their kids to use, compared to 47 percent of upper-income parents.
Do these findings reflect your own experiences? Is 2 hours per day too much media time, or just right?
Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media is a multi-year research effort directed by Vicky Rideout, a former vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.The goal of the program is to provide parents, educators, health organizations, and policymakers with reliable, independent data on children’s use of media and technology and the impact this has on their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.