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.”
Child 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."