The 6 Most Important Child Development Research Studies of 2011

Study: Young Children's Consumption of Media Is Increasing

Study name: "Zero to eight: Children's media use in America," A Common Sense Media Research Study, Fall 2011.

What was found? By conducting interviews with 1,384 parents, this study provided detailed estimates about the high media use (TV, DVD, and mobile media that included tablets and smartphones) by kids between ages 0 to 8 years old. Some highlights include: 1) kids under age 2 spent an average of 53 minutes a day watching TV/DVD but only 23 minutes a day reading or being read to; 2) 42 percent of kids have a TV in their bedroom; 3) 53 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds have used a computer; 4) 52 percent of kids between ages 0 to 8 have access to mobile media.

Why is this study influential? Although media use has been tracked extensively, this is one of the first studies to generate descriptive data about kids' use of different media. The bottom line: Screen time is increasing for this digital generation, partly because of increased access to mobile media and computers and partly because of increased TV watching (increases over the last six years are the result of more kids having a TV in their bedroom). Professional recommendations continue to advise reductions in kids' screen time, including one offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids under age 2 should not be watching TV.

What's the take-home message? Parents need to weigh the advantages of modern technology against the disadvantages of increased screen time, including interference with reading time, encouragement of sedentary behavior, and decreased opportunities for social interaction with parents and peers. This study is the tip of the iceberg, as researchers are just starting to observe how kids are adding mobile devices into their repertoire of media use. Expect more studies on the positive and negative effects of increased media consumption by kids. In the meantime, encourage reading as well as play and social interaction at all ages, given the amount of time kids are devoting to media use.

Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.

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