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Kids and Technology: A New Study Looks at Kids 0-8 years old

A new study from Common Sense Media looks at technology use by kids 0-8 years old.Are you worried about kids and technology? A new study released today by Common Sense Media looks at the great increases in the use of technology by children under eight years old. This study is an update on the same study conducted by Common Sense Media in 2011.

The findings are pretty interesting.

The most interesting finding is about smart phones and tablets. Since 2011, the number of children with access to tablets jumped from 8% to 40%, while kids with access to either a tablet or a smartphone went from 50% to 75%.

But what some might find alarming is the huge increase in the amount of time children are spending on tablets and smartphones, more than tripling. However, if you contrast this with the huge decrease in time children are watching television, it’s a bit more balanced traditional television watching by children under eight is down by a half hour a day. In addition, kids spend twenty-one minutes less a day looking at screens today than they did in 2011.

screen media use over time

Sadly, the report also shows that while children from poor families have greater access to tablets and smartphones today than they did two years ago, they still suffer terribly from a lack of high-speed internet access, and that gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

I was pretty surprised to see that tablets and smartphones add up to LESS screen time for kids, but I suppose that makes sense. We’ve recently stopped having television in our home (no cable, and no access to the free networks), and there is no doubt that everyone in the family is now watching less television even though we have access to Netflix and Hulu Plus. We are also far more intentional with our television viewing, just as we are with our other screen time. It makes for a more rich life.

One thing left out of the study (and, frankly, most discussions about screen time) is books. I still read a couple of fluff novels a week, but I read them on a Kindle now instead of actually holding a book in my hand. My daughter also reads plenty of books on the Kindle; so does that count as “screen” time or reading time?

What do you think? Were you surprised to see the big decrease in the amount of time kids look at screens? If you found this study interesting, you may want to keep up with NPR as they explore the use of technology by kids all week this week.

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