Children and media in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Today’s children don’t know a world without smartphones and the internet. It is no surprise, then, that they spend a considerable amount of their time with technology. Television still remains the media of choice, with teenagers aged 12 to 17 spending almost 14 hours weekly watching television, a figure that increases to over 19.5 hours among children aged 2-11.

However, teenagers are spending an increasing amount of time watching online TV, with the subscription service, Netflix, being a particular favorite. In spring 2017, 38 percent of teenagers’ daily video content was consumed via Netflix, and a further 26 percent through YouTube, illustrating the changing face of traditional television. Overall, more than 27 million people living in households used video on demand services for children’s programs in the past 30 days. On the other hand, radio consumption among children has declined rapidly, with just under 18 thousand people reporting listening to children’s radio in 2016, down from 350 thousand in 2008.

Gaming will always remain popular with children and, with the increasing prevalence of smartphones among young people, the mobile game industry is larger than ever. The social aspect of gaming is also important as 88 percent of parents who play computer games with their children do so because it is fun for the entire family. However, some parents place limits on their children’s media consumption, with 94 percent stating that they pay attention to the content of the games that their children play, and 75 percent stating they place limits on their children’s video game playing. Parents share similar concerns with their children’s use of the internet. Some of the biggest threats that they perceive include their children seeing inappropriate content, communicating with dangerous strangers, or spending too much time online.

In contrast, reading is heralded as an activity that children should involve themselves more in. Children aged between 8 and 12 spend an estimated 29 minutes daily reading books, whilst teenagers spend 28 minutes reading. Parents look for books that are inspirational for their children and allow them to explore places and worlds beyond their imagination. Moreover, children are offered the alternative of audiobooks to allow them to experience books in another way. In 2016, 10.2 percent of audiobooks sold were targeted at children and young adults.

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