Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013

A Common Sense Research Study
October 28, 2013

Access to mobile media devices and applications among poor and minority children is much higher than it was two years ago, but a large gap between rich and poor still persists.

Two years ago, our study identified both an ongoing digital divide in home Internet access as well as a new “app gap,” a disparity in access to mobile devices and applications. With regard to the traditional divide, access to high-speed Internet among lower-income families has essentially stalled over the past two years (it was 42% in 2011 and is 46% today, a non-significant difference), and the gap between rich and poor endures (86% of higher-income families have high-speed access).

On the other hand, the gaps in mobile ownership, although still substantial, are closing. For example, access to smartphones has gone from 27% to 51% among lower-income families over the past two years, while tablet ownership has gone from 2% to 20% among the same group. Two years ago, 22% of lower-income children had ever used a mobile device; today, 65% have done so.

Despite this increase in ownership, the gaps remain large. For example, although 20% of lower-income children now have a tablet device at home, 63% of higher-income children do; and while 35% of lower-income parents have downloaded educational apps for their child, 75% of higher-income parents have done so.