Despite Warnings, Children's Screen Time Increases

Common Sense Media released a report Tuesday showing that children younger than eight are spending more time in front of screens than ever before, according to a New York Times article. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco, found that almost half of families with annual incomes of $75,000 or more are downloading certain virtual applications geared towards their young children. However, the use of these apps is much less common in lower income families, with one in eight families with annual incomes of $30,000 or less downloading them. More than a third of low-income parents surveyed reported that they did not know what an "app" was. Common Sense Media refers to this phenomenon as the "app gap."

According to the study, half of children under eight have access to a mobile device including a smart phone, video iPod, iPad or a similar tablet. Time spent watching television is still responsible for the majority of children's time spent in front of screens; about half of children under two watch TV or DVDs on most days. These children devote, on average, two hours a day to these activities. The survey finds that children under two spend, on average, fifty-three minutes a day watching television or DVDs. The time devoted to being read to by parents was about half as long (twenty-three minutes per day).

Additionally, almost a third of children under two now have televisions in their own bedrooms. This has increased substantially over the past decade, with less than 20% of children ages six months to twenty-three months having televisions in their bedrooms in 2005. Children of families with annual incomes below $30,000 were more than three times as likely to have televisions in their bedrooms as children of families with incomes above $75,000. In families with annual incomes below $30,000, 64% of children under eight had televisions in their bedrooms. In families with annual incomes above $75,000 the portion of children under eight with televisions in their bedrooms decreased to 20%. 

Even though the American Academy of Pediatricians has warned against screen time in children under two, only 14% of parents surveyed reported that their children's doctor had ever discussed media exposure with them.

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