40% of 2 to 4 year olds and 52% of 5 to 8 year olds using smartphones, video iPods, iPads

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A new study in the US by Common Sense Media Research has documented the use of digital media among young children. The startling results; toddlers today spend twice as much time in front of a screen as they do looking at books.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America is the first publicly available, national research study to document young children’s use of new digital media devices such as iPads or other tablet devices and mobile apps along with older media platforms such as television, computers, and books.
Key findings:

  • 42% of children under 8 years old have a TV in their bedrooms
  • 52% of all 0 – 8year-olds have access to a new mobile device such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet
  • 38% of children this age have used at least one of these devices, including 10% of 0 to 1 year olds, 39% of  2 to 4 year-olds, and more than half (52%) of 5 to 8 year olds, and
  • In a typical day, 11% 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% of lower-income parents having downloaded new media apps for their kids to use, compared to 47% of upper-income parents.

TV and DVD’s continue to be the most popular pastime for young children aged between 0 and 8 years old who are engaged in digital media. Their average day’s consumption consists of:

  • 90 minutes a day being spent in front of a television
  • 29 minutes listening to music (iPod etc)
  • 17 minutes using a computer
  • 14 minutes using a console or handheld video game player, and
  • 5 minutes using a cell phone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device.

This is compared to only 29 minutes a day being read to or looking at books. Even infants and toddlers spend nearly 1 hour a day in front of a screen and only 23 minutes with a book.

This report was based on a survey of 1,384 parents of children ages between 0 and 8 years old. The survey was conducted online for Common Sense Media in May/June 2011. For a full copy of the report go to www.commonsense.org/research.

The study reported that “Much of the focus in recent years has been on the explosion of media use among teenagers, whereas our study examines media use among young children during crucial developmental years.”

James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense Media said “the American Academy of Pediatrics (has) reaffirmed their position that children under age 2 should not engage in any screen time, yet the data shows infants and toddlers are growing up surrounded by screens. This use data is an important first step toward understanding how the prevalence of media and technology affects the development of our youngest kids.”

For full details of Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America, as well as more information about Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media, visit Common Sense Media.

Common Sense Media is an American organisation 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.

They provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Common Sense Media