Media Statistics: Children’s Use of TV, Internet, and Video Games

One of the most significant changes in our children today from decades ago is the incredible amount of time spent in use of TV, Internet and video games.  How might this usage affect our children?

 Less reading and more use of media by children

children and videogames
Children need a balance between media use and relationships to stay healthy (photo courtesy of

It is alarming to read these representative statistics as published by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Brent Conrad from Tech Addiction, and to see what is actually happening with our children as they experience the amount of media that they do so early in life.  The article appears below.

Internet, Video Game, and Television Stats for Children

For decades, children’s media use was essentially limited to watching television or listening to music. Although few parents complained about a child becoming addicted to listening to music, the idea of children being addicted to television was / is a real concern among parents. Today however, parents not only need to be vigilant about how much television their children watch, but also the many other forms of media coming from the internet, smart phones, iPods and iPads, and video games.

Common Sense Media has recently released some fascinating media statistics on toddler’s and children’s use of TV, computers, video games. Below, we have provided an overview of the research stats / highlights.

  • In a typical day, children consume just over three hours of media. This includes computer use, cell phone use, tablet use, music, and reading. Two thirds of this time is spent with “screen media” (TV, computers, the Internet, etc.) while reading is less than 20 minutes per day.
  • The time spent with on screen media dramatically increases from the toddler to preschool to school-age years. Children under two have a screen time average of 53 minutes per day. This increases to almost two and a half hours per day among two to four year old and almost three hours for kids in the five to eight year old range.
  • Although the use of computers, the internet, and electronic devices are steadily increasing among children, television remains the type of media that children spend the most time with. Sixty-five percent of children under eight years old watch television daily. On average, they spend about an hour and a half (100 minutes to be exact) watching TV every day.
  • As a group, children under eight spend an average of 25 minutes per day playing video games.
  • 66% of all children under the age of two have watched television.
  • Television watching typically begins at 9 months of age.
  • Compared to watching television, playing video games starts later, but nearly half of all two to four year olds have played video games. This increases dramatically just a few years later – 81% have played video game console games and 90% use computers.
  • 10% of children under eight years old use educational software and 6% use a computer for homework.
  • 11% of children under eight years old use a cell phone, iPod, or iPad / tablet.
  • Listening to music actually decreases from birth to age eight. Children up to a year old spend an average of 39 minutes per day listening to music, 30 minutes at ages two to four, and just 23 minutes at ages five to eight.
  • By age eight, 96% of children have watched TV, 90% have used a computer, 81% have played console video games, and 60% have played games or used apps on a portable device (cell phone, handheld gaming system, iPod, or tablet).

These statistics are pretty significant.

These numbers should promote red flags for parents and caregivers of children as it sets the stage for all kinds of messages that can be sent to our children. Even though media sources provide a lot of entertainment, it is so important for us to be monitoring these sources of communication to our children for such significant blocks of time.

Our children need emotionally and relationally healthy relationships, friendships and social interaction. Is is so important to make sure to balance these essential elements with their use of media.

We should all be careful to monitor media and relational behavior in our children to make sure we are protecting them and encouraging them to be healthy in their media use.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network


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