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Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America

Audrey Stokes | November 8, 2011

Zero to Eight is a nationally representative survey of parents of U.S. children ages zero to eight, conducted by Common Sense Media to understand the patterns of media use among young American children.
Article by Kelly Schryver, Education Content Associate, Common Sense Media

I distinctly remember the time that I saw my friend’s toddler approach a TV screen and swipe her finger across it. My friend explained that her 2 year-old was already accustomed to using an iPhone and that she expected the television to work the same way.

Surprising? According to Common Sense Media’s Zero to Eight Report, yes and no.

Our recent study sheds light on young children’s media use in America today. We surveyed over a thousand parents nationwide about their kids’ exposure to, and regular use of, digital media at home.

Here are 0-8 takeaways for educators. (Let’s say 4 and call it even?)

1. Even very young children use digital media frequently. Half of all young children have access to either a smartphone, video iPod, or tablet device at home. And among all children who have ever used a computer, the average age of first use is 3 ½.

2. There’s no denying a digital divide. A new “app gap” has developed among young children. Thirty-eight percent of lower-income parents have never heard of an “app” before, compared to just 3% of higher-income parents. Additionally, the majority of lower-income children, children from less well-educated families, and Hispanic children do not have a computer at home.

3. Children under 2 spend twice as much time watching TV and videos as they do reading books. Nearly half (47%) of infants watch TV or DVDs, and those who do spend an average of nearly two hours in front of a screen. Comparatively, parents spend an average of 25 minutes a day reading to babies.

4. Nearly half of all 0-8 year-olds have a bedroom TV. 42% of all 0- to 8- year-olds have a TV set in their bedroom, including one in three (30%) children under the age of 2.

Click here to learn more information about these findings and to read the rest of the report.