Drenched in TV: Survey finds kids age 8 and younger exposed to video three times as often as books
All those pediatricians recommending toddlers stay away from TV now have something new to worry about.
Children younger than 2 years old spend twice as much time with TV and videos as they do with books, according to a new survey of parents released by Common Sense Media. Time spent watching video among kids age 8 and younger is about three times the amount spent reading; a hour and 40 minutes with video in an average day, compared to 29 minutes reading or being read to.
The survey, which polled 1,384 parents of children age 8 and younger, found digital media has become a regular part of these youths' media diet, with 52 percent of 5 to 8 year olds using smartphones, iPads or similar digital devices. About 38 percent of kids age 8 and younger have used these devices, which explains why my 7-year-old is always bugging me about getting a cellphone.
The results indicate trends you might expect: Children of higher income homes have more access to better technology and more media choices (cable and satellite TV, smartphone apps), significant numbers of infants and toddlers are watching TVs and DVDs on a regular basis, digital media are a significant and growing part of young children's lives.
What you might not expect: Higher income children spend less time with video media, are less likely to have TVs in their bedrooms and are less likely to regularly consume educational TV.
A few more eye-popping results:
Three out of four kids sampled have a computer at home, but among families with incomes below $30,000 annually, that average drops to less than half (48 percent). Among those with incomes above $75,000,the average rises to 91 percent.
Among lower income children, 27 percent have a parent with a smartphone, compared to 57 percent among higher income kids. About 38 percent of lower income parents said they didn't even know what an "app" is; just 2 percent of lower-income children have a tablet computer such as an iPad in the home.
Two thirds of kids sampled watch TV at least once each day, 42 percent have a TV in their bedroom and 39 percent live in homes where TV is left on all or most of the time.
African American kids spend the most time with media, with an average 4 hours and 27 minutes each day consuming music, reading, or watching screens. Hispanic children are at 3 hours 28 minutes and white children averaged 2 hours 51 minutes each day.
Children with higher income parents spend less time with media; 2 hours and 47 minutes per day, versus 3 hours 34 minutes among youth in lower-income homes. Just 20 percent of higher income children have TVs in their bedrooms, compared to 64 percent of those in lower income homes. Almost all lower-income children have access to TV, but just 53 percent have access to cable or satellite TV.
Lower income children are more likely to consume educational TV: 26 percent often watch, compared to 17 percent among higher income families.
The report wisely seems to leave conclusions about the impact of all this media exposure to another study. But it certainly shows that the deluge of media adults experience these days has filtered right down to our children in very similar ways.