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Kids Younger Than 8 Spend Almost an Hour a Day Staring at a Mobile Screen

New research by Common Sense shows a major spike in mobile media use and device ownership by kids 8 years old and younger.


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If you think kids using mobile devices are younger than ever, you’re right. Wrap your head around this: A whopping 42 percent of children ages 0-8 have their own tablet device, according to new research by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that helps kids, parents, educators and policymakers better navigate the overwhelming forces of media and technology.

The new research shows that children 8 and younger spent about 15 minutes a day staring at a mobile screen in 2013 and now spend 48 minutes a day. Ninety-five percent of families with children ages 0-8 now have a smartphone and 78 percent have a tablet. These numbers have drastically increased since 2013, when only 63 percent of families had a smartphone and 40 percent had a tablet.

According to parents, nearly half (49 percent) of children age 8 or under often or sometimes watch TV or play video games in the hour before bedtime, against the recommendations of pediatricians. Also on the rise are the number of “smart” toys for kids: About one in 10 kids age 8 and under has their own “smart” toy that connects to the internet.

And it’s not just access to devices that has increased. Families with young children are now more likely to have a subscription video service (like Netflix or Hulu), at 72 percent, than they are to have a cable TV subscription, at 65 percent.

The findings come from The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight, which is based on a survey of 1,454 parents of children age 8 or under. What’s a parent to do, especially when you feel like you’re always connected to your own device? Common Sense advocates making family dinners a priority, and making sure you put the devices away before you sit down at the table.

The organization has launched a series of PSAs featuring actor Will Ferrell for the #DeviceFreeDinner campaign. Go to Common Sense Media to watch some of the powerful PSAs with your kids.

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