Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America

A Common Sense Research Study
October 25, 2011

There continues to be a substantial digital divide, including both computers and mobile devices.

HOME COMPUTER ACCESS. There is a large digital divide in home computer access among young children. Nearly three out of four (72%) 0- to 8-year- olds have a computer at home, but access ranges from 48% among those from low-income families (less than $30,000 a year) to 91% among higher-income families (more than $75,000 a year).

THE NEW “APP GAP.” In addition to the traditional digital divide, a new “app gap” has developed among young children. Among lower-income children, 27% have a parent with a smartphone, compared to 57% for higher-income children. One in 10 (10%) lower-income children has a video iPod or similar device in the home, compared to one in three (34%) upper-income children. And just 2% of lower-income children have a tablet device such as an iPad at home, compared to 17% of higher-income children.

Thirty-eight percent of lower-income parents say they don’t even know what an app is, compared to just 3% of higher-income parents. Only 14% of lower-income parents have ever downloaded apps for their children to use, compared to 47% of higher-income parents.

This disparity in access has led to a disparity in use: while 55% of children from higher-income families have used a cell phone, iPod, iPad, or similar device for playing games, watching videos, or using apps, just 22% from lower-income families have done so used a computer, the average age at first use was just 3 ½ years old.