Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take a Look at the Rise of Infant and Toddler Screen Time

Young children are using digital media frequently, and a new study from Common Sense Media shows that infants and toddlers spend twice as much time with screen media as they do with books.

 (Please see video at bottom of post of the one year old who thought the magazine was a broken iPad!)

On average, kids under the age of 8 spend about 29 minutes reading or being read to, while they spend more than 90 minutes in front of the television alone. They also spend about 17 minutes on the computer, 14 minutes playing video games and 5 minutes, on average, using a touchscreen device such as a cellphone or tablet.

The study, which was presented Tuesday, October 26, is based on a survey of more than 1,300 parents and found that more than 38 percent of children under 8 years old have used a smartphone, video iPod or iPad. And while television is still the dominant media device in most young children’s lives, some kids are also spending a lot of time with these newer devices.

On an average day, one in 10 children this age spends about 43 minutes using one of these devices to play games, watch video or use apps. Though a digital divide over access to technology was prominent in the study, over half the children included in the survey had access to a smartphone, video iPod, iPad or other tablet.

  There was a marked difference between low-income (less than $30,000 per year) and high-income (above $75,000 per year) households: parents from high-income households were far more likely to download new media apps for their kids.

The study also found that young children are multitasking with their media with over one-fifth of children ages 5 to 8 using more than one medium “most” or “some of the time.”

Toddler on iPadChild development experts have warned about too much screen time, particularly for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, says children under age 2 should have no screen time at all. Interactions should be in person.

Media changes how kids think, communicate, learn, even how their brains develop, Common Sense founder and CEO Jim Steyer told the Deseret News, noting this is the first such study in six years and that the technology itself has changed dramatically in that time.

"Kids even as young as 1 and 2 have access to this incredible digital and media reality today," said Steyer. "Parents are giving even young kids cell phones and smartphones and all that has enormous implications for childhood. Plus, TV is still the elephant in the room when it comes to the amount of usage; 30 percent of children under 2 have a TV in their bedroom.... There are enormous implications for childhood."


  1. I like how that parent blames Jobs for his/her daughter thinking the magazine is a broken iPad. Who gave her the iPad as a toy in the first place?

    This is really sad news. As much as I love technology, I've limited the use of it in our home. My daughters won't be seeing a TV in their rooms until they are much older--and if I win the argument there won't be any more TVs coming into this house. We have 3 already. How many does a family of 4 need?

    I can't tell you the last TV show I watched. Give me a good book, thanks.


  2. I agree with Cheryl. This is sad, and I wonder what difference it will make in how the next generation thinks as adults.

  3. Yes, the world is changing at warp speed. This must be similar to what happened when Gutenberg's Printing Press was invented and used. Things will never be the same for any of us...

  4. I think people forget that the child can only get their hands on whatever the adult gives to them.

    I have two nieces and they spend more time with books and puzzles than they do with iPads and computers. That is the choice that we, as a family, make. If we only allow them to watch television and play on iPads, then there would be a reduction in the amount of book time.

    Parents, you are still in charge. Remember that. And Cheryl, I agree with you completely!

    Thanks for this post, Nancy!

  5. Thankfully, my grandchildren have lots of books and still enjoy them! They don't have the electronic devices. It's sad that children are getting way from books and more into digital devices. Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

  6. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. In fear of repeating myself and not wishing to over dramatize, I cannot lose the notion that this direction of technology is changing not only the way we read but the very fabric of societal interaction as we humans know it. It's an interesting and thought provoking time as we step truly into an unknown era...

  7. OMG, this is unbelievable! I do not know how to respond, except to say I'm flabbergasted! Thanks for this info, Nancy!