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Report: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

How do young kids consume digital media in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites? 

A study conducted by the Sesame Workshop and other scholars, foundations, and market researchers resulted in an enlightening new report by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center titled, “Always Connected: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children.”  The report distilled data from seven other studies between 2006-2010 that focused on preschool and elementary school kids (ages 0-11) .  The seven studies tracked how children absorbed digital, mobile, and online media in the form of television, smart phones, and online games. 

An overview of the report’s findings reveal:

  • Children now have more access to digital media, so they spend more time during the day consuming it.
  • Television is still the number one way children consume media.
  • Children expand their media consumption beyond television around age 8.
  • Mobile media continues to be a rising trend in the way children consume media, such as handheld video games, portable music players, and cell phones.
  • Due to family economic situations, some children still don’t have access to the latest technology.

During the 1990s, children around 2 years old watched over 3 hours of television and children between 8-18 were exposed to media for over 7.5 hours a day.  Now, over ten years later, children under 1 watch 49 minutes of television while children 2-3 years old spend 1 hour and 51 minutes and children between 8-18 are now exposed to media for over 10 hours a day.  In addition to the cable television,  music players, VCRs, home computers, portable handheld video games, internet, and cell phones from available during the 1990s, other ways children now consume media are through DVDs, DVRs, MP3 players, electronic interactive toys, smart phones, and tablet computers. 

According to the study, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 should not watch television and older children should only watch a maximum of 2 hours a day.  New guidelines about the best practices for how your kids consume technology will also be released this year by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

To read the full report, visit the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

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