From Parenting 24/7: University of Illinois Extension

infants

Study Finds Children Age Zero to Six Spend As Much Time With TV, Computers and Video Games As Playing Outside

Posted , updated Oct 29, 2003.

Even the very youngest children in America are growing up immersed in media, spending hours a day watching TV and videos, using computers and playing video games, according to a recent study released by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Children six and under spend an average of two hours a day using screen media (1:58), about the same amount of time they spend playing outside (2:01), and well over the amount they spend reading or being read to (39 minutes).

New interactive digital media have become an integral part of children’s lives. Nearly half (48%) of children six and under have used a computer (31% of 0-3 year-olds and 70% of 4-6 year-olds). Just under a third (30%) have played video games (14% of 0-3 year-olds and 50% of 4-6 year-olds). Even the youngest children– those under two – are widely exposed to electronic media. Forty-three percent of those under two watch TV every day, and 26% have a TV in their bedroom (the American Academy of Pediatrics “urges parents to avoid television for children under 2 years old”). In any given day, two-thirds (68%) of children under two will use a screen media, for an average of just over two hours (2:05).

“It’s not just teenagers who are wired up and tuned in, its babies in diapers as well,” said Vicky Rideout, Vice President and Director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health, the lead author of the study. “So much new media is being targeted at infants and toddlers, it’s critical that we learn more about the impact it’s having on child development.” The study, Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Children’s Digital Media Centers. It is the first publicly released national study of media use among the very youngest children, from 6 months to six years old.

"These are astonishing data. Today's preschoolers are starting to use media much younger than we thought," said study co-author Ellen Wartella, Dean of the College of Communication at the University of Texas. "Where previous generations were introduced to media through print, this generation's pathway is electronic. This is a trend we must follow."

The complete report, along with a video webcast of a a panel discussion on the results of the report can be found at:

Addtional press coverage can be found in:

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