New Research from Common Sense Media Reveals Mobile Media Use Among Young Children Has Tripled in Two Years
Ownership of tablets jumped from 8% to 40% among families with young kids; infants and toddlers spend more than twice as much time with screen media as with books.
SAN FRANCISCO – Common Sense Media today announced the release of "Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America 2013," the second in its series of national surveys of children's media use in America. Most notable among the findings is the dramatic increase in children's access to mobile media devices in just two years. Among families with children eight and under, there has been a five-fold increase in ownership of tablets (from 8% to 40%), and the percent of children with access to some sort of smart mobile device at home has jumped from half (52%) to three-quarters (75%).
"Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America 2013" is based on a large, nationally representative sample of respondents and replicates methods from 2011 to gauge how media environments and behaviors have changed over the past two years. The study is the only one of its kind, tracking young children's use of new mobile media devices and apps along with older media platforms such as television, computers, and books.
Among the key findings:
- There has been a huge increase in use of mobile media by young children over the past two years:
- The average amount of time children spend using mobile devices has tripled, from five minutes a day to 15 minutes a day (the average daily use among all 0- to 8-year-olds);
- The number of kids who've used mobile devices has nearly doubled (38% to 72%);
- 38% of toddlers and infants under 2 have used a mobile device, compared to 10% in 2011.
- The average time spent with "traditional" screen media (TV, DVDs, computers, and video games) has decreased by more than a half-hour a day (though overall screen time is down by 21 minutes, with mobile time up 10 minutes). However, TV viewing on a TV set still makes up half of all screen time.
- Access to mobile media among poor and minority children is much higher than it was two years ago, but a digital divide persists. Twenty percent of lower-income kids have a tablet compared to 63% of higher-income ones; and 35% of lower-income parents have downloaded educational apps for their kids, compared to 75% of higher-income ones.
Despite the dramatic changes of the past two years, television still reigns supreme in children's media lives, though new ways of watching now make up a large portion of viewing. It is the medium children use most frequently, by far: nearly six out of 10 children (58%) watch TV at least once a day, compared to 17% who use mobile devices on an everyday basis, 14% who are daily computer users, and 6% who play video games every day.
Even among infants and toddlers, screen media use dwarfs time spent reading. In a typical day, children under 2 spend more than twice as much time watching television and DVDs (55 minutes) as they do reading or being read to (19 minutes).
"This is quite an extraordinary shift for our young children. In the past we could measure and control exactly where, when, and how they were engaging with screens. Now, mobile devices follow our kids from room to room," said James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense Media. "The media children consume can have a profound impact on their learning, social development, and behavior, and the only way to maximize the positive impact -- and minimize the negative -- is to have an accurate understanding of the role it plays in their lives. These kids are true digital natives."
"Zero to Eight" is part of a multiyear research effort directed by Vicky Rideout, a senior adviser to Common Sense Media, head of VJR Consulting, and director of more than 30 previous studies on children, media, and health.
"I've never seen a new medium take hold among little kids this fast," said Rideout. "As many little babies and one-year-olds have used smartphones or tablets today as all kids under eight had done just two years ago."
For analysis and full results of "Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America," visit www.commonsensemedia.org/research.
About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: www.commonsensemedia.org.
Methodology: This report is based on a nationally representative survey of 1,463 parents of children age 8 and under. The survey was conducted by GfK for Common Sense Media from May 20 to June 12, 2013. Respondents, including an over-sample of African-American and Latino parents, were recruited to GfK's survey panel using probability-based methods of address-based sampling and random-digit dialing. Households that were not already online were provided with a notebook computer and dial-up Internet access for the purpose of participating in GfK's research. The survey was offered in both English and Spanish. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3.5 percentage points. The completion rate for the survey was 50%.