Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America

A Common Sense Research Study
October 25, 2011

Even very young children are frequent digital media users.

TOTAL DIGITAL MEDIA USE. Today a substantial proportion of the time that young children spend with screen media is spent with digital media — including computers, handheld and console video game players, and other interactive mobile devices such as cell phones, video iPods, and iPad-style tablet devices. Among 0- to 8-year-olds as a whole, a quarter (27%) of all screen time is spent with these digital devices.

MOBILE MEDIA. Half (52%) of all children now have access to one of the newer mobile devices at home: either a smartphone (41%), a video iPod (21%), or an iPad or other tablet device (8%).

More than a quarter (29%) of all parents have down- loaded “apps” (applications used on mobile devices) for their children to use. And more than a third (38%) of children have ever used one of these newer mobile devices, including 10% of 0- to 1-year-olds, 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and 52% of 5- to 8-year-olds.

In a typical day, 11% of all 0- to 8-year olds use a cell phone, iPod, iPad, or similar device for media consumption, and those who do spend an average of :43 doing so.

COMPUTERS. Computer use is pervasive among very young children, with half (53%) of all 2- to 4-year- olds having ever used a computer, and nine out of ten (90%) 5- to 8-year-olds having done so. For many of these children, computer use is a regular occurrence: 22% of 5- to 8-year-olds use a computer at least once a day, and another 46% use it at least once a week. Even among 2- to 4-year-olds, 12% use a computer every day, with another 24% doing so at least once a week. Among all children who have used a computer, the average age at first use was just 3 ½ years old.

VIDEO GAMES. Playing console video games is also popular among these young children: Half (51%) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have ever played a console video game, including 44% of 2- to 4-year-olds and 81% of 5- to 8-year-olds. Among those who have played console video games, the average age at first use was just under 4 years old (3 years and 11 months). Among 5- to 8-year-olds, 17% play console video games at least once a day, and another 36% play them at least once a week.