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Study: More than half of young children use digital media

Infants, toddlers use digital media twice as much as they read books

Nearly three out of four zero- to 8-year-olds have a computer at home.

Fifty-two percent of children ages 5-8 use smart phones, video iPods, iPads, or similar devices, and four in 10 2- to 4-year-olds use the same devices, according to a new national study on young children’s use of media.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America” documents young children’s use of new digital media devices such as iPads or other tablet devices and mobile apps, along with older media platforms such as television, computers, and books.

The study, which was presented and discussed at a panel in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25, is the first in a series of reports from Common Sense Media’s new Program for the Study of Children and Media, and it has important implications for educators charged with teaching today’s youth.

Despite the proliferation of new technologies and platforms, television continues to dominate children’s media use. Among all children up to age 8, an average of one hour and 40 minutes is spent watching television or DVDs in a typical day, compared to 29 minutes reading or being read to, 29 minutes listening to music, 17 minutes using a computer, 14 minutes using a console or handheld video game player, and 5 minutes using a cell phone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device.

Even among infants and toddlers, screen media use dwarfs time spent reading. In a typical day, zero- to 1-year-olds spend more than twice as much time watching television and DVDs (53 minutes) as they do reading or being read to (23 minutes). And some young children have already begun media multitasking—23 percent of 5- to 8-year-olds use more than one medium “most” or “some” of the time.

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