Children Are Increasingly Growing Up With Mobile Devices, Not TV Screens

October 31, 2017

Virtually all children ages 0-8 live in households that have a mobile device, and that is clearly having an effect on media use, per results from a Common Sense Media study. The research details a striking shift in screen use over the past few years: children now spend 35% of their screen time with mobile devices, up from just 4% in 2011.

While children still spend the largest share of their screen time with TV, the bigger screen is receding in dominance. This year parents estimate that their kids spend 42% of their screen time with the TV set, down from 51% in 2011. DVDs and videotapes are likewise diminishing in influence, occupying about half the share of kids’ screen time from 2011 (12% and 23%, respectively).

Online video sources are – unsurprisingly – playing a greater role: online viewing now accounts for one-quarter of TV and video screen time, up from just 4% in 2011. And families with young children now are more likely to report having a subscription video-on-demand service such as Netflix (72%) than a pay-TV service (65%).

This obviously has large implications for legacy TV, which looks increasingly likely to not have a substantial standing in kids’ media diets. Interestingly enough, traditional TV viewing hasn’t dropped as precipitously among 2-11-year-olds as among teens and young Millennials, according to an upcoming MarketingCharts report on TV viewing. This data demonstrates, though, that legacy TV is in danger of being coopted by mobile devices and digital video as the central part of kids’ media habits as they grow up.

Mobile Reaches Parity With TV Among 5-8-Year-Olds

Parents are known to use mobile devices as babysitters even with very young children – and the Common Sense Media study shows that kids as young as 2 are getting a steady dose of mobile time.

Overall, parents estimated that their 2-4-year-olds spend almost 1 hour (58 minutes) per day with mobile devices, while those ages 5-8 spend just a little more (1 hour and 2 minutes per day).

Conversely, 5-8-year-olds spend slightly less time watching TV than their younger counterparts. In all, the 5-8 bracket now spends as much time with mobile devices (1:02 per day) as they do watching TV (1:04 per day).

About the Data: The report is based on a nationally representative, probability-based online survey of 1,454 parents of children age 8 or under, conducted from January 20, 2017, to February 10, 2017.


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