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Young Children Consuming More Digital Media

Kids increasingly spending time with multiple online channels

June 9, 2011

While children under age 10 still spend most of their media time watching television, they are increasingly being exposed to and growing more savvy at using a variety of digital channels. Kids are focused more on computers and mobile devices, engaging in an assortment of activities ranging from playing games and watching videos to social networking.

Infants and toddlers are exposed to digital media earlier and continue to spend additional time on multiple online channels as they grow. According to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, 30% of children ages 3 and younger spend some time each week using computers, video games and mobile devices. The amount of time kids between ages 4 and 8 spend online increases significantly as they age. More than 80% of children ages 4 to 5 consume digital media, and more than 90% of those ages 6 to 8 do so.

Time Spent per Week Using Select Media and Devices by US Children and Teens According to Their Parents, by Age of Child, Sep 2010 (% of respondents)

Further, the survey reported that 20% of children under age 3 spent time on a computer in an average week, and the number jumped to 63% for 4- to 5-year-olds. The study found 82% of children ages 6 to 8 use a computer, with 55% of children in this age range spending 5 or more hours on a computer in an average week.

Young children are also communicating with their peers online. According to Consumer Reports’ annual “State of the Net” study published in May 2011, 7.5 million children under age 13 are on Facebook despite being younger than the social network’s minimum age limit. Moreover, a study by consumer security software provider AVG that surveyed mothers with internet access found that nearly 70% of 6- to 9-year-olds are using children’s social networks, such as Club Penguin and Webkinz, and that 20% use email.

Online Activities of Children in Select Countries According to Their Moms, by Age of Child and Country, Spring 2011 (% of respondents)

Parents are an important influence for their young children’s media exposure and consumption. Although the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) restricts the collection of personal information from children less than 13 years of age and sets requirements for website privacy policies, marketers can engage both young kids and parents through intergenerational online media content as recommended by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Digital media that appeals to multiple generations would enable children to spend and enjoy more quality time online with their parents.

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Check out today’s other article, “Display on Trajectory to Surpass Search Ad Spending.”


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