The Deep, Dark Secret Of Modern Parenting? Kids Are Online All The Time

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
This might be old news to you if you're a parent of a young child, but new research has found that the number of kids who own and use digital devices has drastically increased since 2011.
Today, Common Sense released the latest installment in a series of national surveys that track media and technology use among young children, called The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight. The company queried 1,454 parents of young kids through a nationally representative, probability-based online survey. (You can read the full report here.)
What it found may not be completely surprising to you, but it certainly represents a big cultural shift. For starters, 42% of kids 0 through 8 now have their own tablet devices, which is up from just 1% in 2011. Young children are also spending way more time on their mobile devices; 48 minutes a day, up from only 15 minutes in 2013 and five minutes in 2011.
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Other findings include that 95% of families with young kids have smartphones (up from 63% in 2013 and 41% in 2011), and 78% have tablets (up from 40% in 2013 and 8% in 2011).
"In today's tech-driven world, where things are moving so quickly, it is really important to step back and take a hard look at what technology kids are using and how they are using it," James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, said in a statement. "Over the last six years, we have seen massive growth in media use and tablet ownership, and we haven't even begun to experience the explosion of new technologies like virtual reality and voice-activated assistants in our homes. If we want to ensure our kids develop well and are successful in life, we have to make sure they get the most out of tech while protecting them from potential risks — and that means paying close attention to the role media is playing in their lives."
The infographic above shows that the "digital divide" — the gap in access to high-speed internet between higher- and lower-income families — has considerably narrowed in recent years. The survey also found that children from lower-income families are spending an average of 1 hour and 39 minutes more on "screen time" daily. In 2017, a child from a family that makes less than $30,000 a year spent an average of 3 hours and 29 minutes a day with a digital device. Those from families with incomes of $75,000 a year or more spent 1 hour and 50 minutes on their screens.
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In conjunction with releasing the survey results, Common Sense launched a series of PSAs featuring Will Ferrell as part of its #DeviceFreeDinner campaign. You can watch one of them, below.
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