Nearly 80% of children between the ages of 0 and 5 who use the Internet in the United States, do so on at least a weekly basis, according to a report released Monday from education non-profit organizations Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop.
The report, which was assembled using data from seven recent studies, indicates that young children are increasingly consuming all types of digital media, in many cases consuming more than one type at once.
Television Still Rules Amongst Preschoolers
Television use dwarfs internet use in both the number of children who surf the web and the amount of time they spend on it. The analysis found that during the week, most children spend at least three hours a day watching television, and that television use among preschoolers is the highest it has been in the past eight years. Of the time that children spend on all types of media, television accounts for a whopping 47%.
Infants Watch At Least Two Hours A Day
Most kids plug into the world of television long before they enter school. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF):
• two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day
• kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.
8 – 18-Year-Olds Pack In 10 Hours And 45 Minutes Of Screen Time Daily
And, even more scary: 8-18 year-olds today devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.
Heavy television viewing may even be partially responsible for the rising number of children who use the Internet. Parents in one study indicated that more than 60% of children under age three watch video online. That percentage decreases as children get older (the report suggests this is because school-age children have less time at home), but even 8- to 18-year-old children reported in another study that they consume about 20% of their video content online, on cellphones, or on other portable devices like iPods.
Is All This Screen Time Good For Kids?
The report doesn’t attempt to solve the more-than-decade-old debate of whether all of this screen time is good for children. Instead, it preaches balance: “My mother used to say that too much of anything isn’t good for you, whether it be eating only protein, shooting hoops all day or ‘always being connected’ to the digital world,” said Dr. Lewis Bernstein, executive president at Sesame Workshop, in a press release.
A Couple Of Big Questions:
Is all that time in front of screens good for children?
And are parents or caregivers around both to monitor the use of technology and to teach kids how to be media-savvy?
What do you think?