The Digital Lives of US Kids: Mapping Their Distinctive Highs and Lows - eMarketer
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The Digital Lives of US Kids: Mapping Their Distinctive Highs and Lows

eMarketer Report

By: eMarketer

Published: December 12, 2017

Jump to: Executive Summary | Table of Contents | List of Charts

Executive Summary

Kids are an anomaly of the digital era. As the younger end of Gen Z, they are digital natives. But aside from tweens, few have smartphones, and their involvement in social media is marginal. Instead, their digital activity is dominated by digital video. The sheer amount of their screen time can feel like a crisis to many parents.

  • Kids—in this report, defined as children not yet in their teens—rely heavily on digital video for entertainment. Nearly half of those ages 11 and younger are digital video viewers. Kids ages 0 to 8 are more likely to be in households with subscription video than with cable TV.
  • It would be hard to overstate the importance of YouTube in kids’ digital mix. One survey shows 45% of 8- to 12-year-olds have YouTube accounts. Another identifies two-thirds of those 10 to 12 as users.
  • Social network penetration among kids is low until they reach their tween phase. Among those 11 and younger, eMarketer pegs social penetration at around 10%. Smartphone penetration is also around 10%. Tablets are the device kids are likely to use, with penetration substantial even in lower-income households.
  • Books haven’t vanished from kids’ lives, but ebooks have not gained a big following. Toys still matter, and a trend toward gender-neutral toys has gained momentum—though it’s less clear that kids care either way about it.
  • “Screen time” remains a flashpoint of parental worry as surveys show kids spending hours and hours looking at screens. In one survey, nearly half the parents said their kids use tech devices at least 3 hours per day. Many parents see screen time displacing other activities, including outdoor play. Excessive screen time may be the crux of a new kind of digital divide, as it is most common in lower-income households.

"Parents worry about the amount of time their kids spend staring at screens—and the degree to which this supplants other activities, including physically active play."

Table of Contents

Gluttons for Digital Video

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The Modest Presence of Social Media and Smartphones

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Where Do Books and Toys Fit In?

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Screen-Time Struggles Continue

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20 charts are included in the full report:

The Digital Lives of US Kids: Mapping Their Distinctive Highs and Lows

Weekly Time Spent on Free-Time Activities Among US Children, by Type, May 2017 (hours)

Gluttons for Digital Video

US Digital Video Viewer Penetration, by Age, 2017 (% of population)

US Children Who Live in Households that Have a Subscription Video-on-Demand Service, by Income, Feb 2017 (% of respondents in each group)

Types of TV Apps* Used by US TV App Users to Stream Digital Content, March 2017 (% of respondents)

The YouTube Factor

Top 20 Brands According to US Child Internet Users, June 2017 (index*)

Top 10 YouTube Video Brands/Content Creators Worldwide, Ranked by Monthly Video Views, Sep 2017 (millions)

The Modest Presence of Social Media and Smartphones

US Social Network User Penetration, by Age, 2016-2021 (% of population in each group)

Social Media Platforms Used by US Child Internet Users, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

US Children Who Own a Smartphone/Mobile Phone, by Age, Aug 2017 (% of respondents in each group)

Reasons that US Parent Mobile Phone Users Would Get Their Children a Mobile Service Before Age 13, Q4 2016 (% of respondents)

US Parent Internet Users' Primary Attitude Toward the Harm/Benefits of Their Child Owning a Feature Phone vs. Smartphone, Sep 2017 (% of respondents)

Where Do Books and Toys Fit In?

US Child Internet Users Who Have a Connected Toy*, by Age of Child and Parent, Sep 2017 (% of respondents in each group)

US Parent Internet Users Who Think Toys for Children Are Too Gender-Specific, Dec 2016 (% of respondents)

Screen-Time Struggles Continue

Weekly Time Spent on Free-Time Activities Among US Children, by Type, May 2017 (hours)

Average Daily Time Spent with Screen Media* Among US Children, by Household Income, Sep 2017 (hrs:mins)

Weekly Time Spent with Select Media/Devices Among US Children and Teens, by Age, Q1 2017 (hrs:mins)

Screen-Centric Kids, Worried Parents

Free-Time Activities that US Parents Would Prefer for Their Children vs. What They Believe Their Children Actually Prefer to Do, May 2017 (% of respondents)

Primary Disadvantage of Their Children Using Devices* According to US Parent Internet Users, April 2017 (% of respondents)

Leading Worries About Raising Their Child According to US Parent Internet Users, April 2017 (% of respondents)