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The new digital media
habits of young children

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Always connected

  1. 1. Alwaysconnected:The new digital mediahabits of young childrenAviva Lucas GutnickMichael RobbLori TakeuchiJennifer KotlerWith a Preface by:Lewis Bernstein & Michael H. LevineThe Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
  2. 2. © Sesame Workshop and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center . All rights reserved.Sesame Workshop is committed to the principle that all children deserve a chance to learn andgrow; to be prepared for school; to better understand the world and each other; to think, dreamand discover; and to reach their highest potential. The Workshop develops innovative and engagingeducational content delivered in a variety of ways, including via television, radio, books, magazines,interactive media, and community outreach. By taking advantage of all forms of media and usingthose that are best suited to deliver a particular curriculum, the Workshop effectively and ef cientlyreaches millions of children, parents, caregivers, and educators locally, nationally, and globally.www.sesameworkshop.orgThe mission of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center is to foster innovation in children’s learning through digitalmedia. The Cooney Center catalyzes and supports research, development, and investment in digitalmedia technologies to advance children’s learning, and is committed to the timely dissemination ofuseful research. Working closely with its Fellows, national advisors, media scholars, and practitioners,the Center publishes industry, policy, and research briefs examining key issues in the eld of digitalmedia and learning. www.joanganzcooneycenter.orgA full-text PDF of this report is available for free download from www.joanganzcooneycenter.org.Individual print copies of this publication are available for via check, money order, or purchaseorder made payable to “The Joan Ganz Cooney Center for Educational Media and Research” and sentto the address below. Bulk-rate prices are available on request.Attn: Publications DepartmentThe Joan Ganz Cooney CenterSesame Workshop BroadwayNew York, NYp: ( ) - f: ( ) -cooney.center@sesameworkshop.orgSuggested citation: Gutnick, A. L., Robb, M., Takeuchi, L., & Kotler, J. ( ). Always connected: The newdigital media habits of young children. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
  3. 3. contents 2 preface 4 executive summary 6 introduction10 methodology14 key findings36 recommendations40 conclusion42 appendix43 references 1
  4. 4. preface In a recent report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Stanford University on media multitasking, Claudia Wallis concluded, “New technology sometimes brings change that is so swift and sweeping, that the implications are hard to grasp.” Such is certainly the case with the rapid expansion of media use by children and youth for ever-larger portions of their waking hours. Academics, policymakers, and practitioners show a keen interest in the digital age. And, of course, parents are scrambling to keep up with the preponderance of new gadgets that influences modern household arrangements and communication patterns. A vigorous national dialogue is taking place over the right balance between media consumption, the potential negative impact that inappropriate digital content can have on vulnerable children, and the worry that children are increasingly leading physically inactive lives. These legitimate concerns must be juxtaposed with emerging evidence from the learning sciences and innovative practices showing how well-deployed digital media can promote new skills, raise achievement, and bring children together across time and space.2
  5. 5. Since 1999, a series of studies undertaken by academic experts and philanthropieshas documented the rise of media multitasking by youth, with most of the studiesfocused on children ages 8 and up. Relatively little research, however, has been doneon children during the preschool and middle-childhood periods, which scholarsin child development, behavioral and cognitive psychology, and neuroscience havepointed to as critical for all that follows. Surely a better understanding of the newnorms of behavior among younger children will help prepare educators, parents,and policymakers to promote learning and healthy development.This report was undertaken to better understand the evolving patterns of youngerchildren’s media use, drawing on previous studies as well as data released herefor the rst time. As members of both the entertainment and educational mediacommunities, Sesame Workshop and the Cooney Center have been following themedia consumption dialogue with great interest and urgency. With a four-decadetrack record as a research-driven producer of educational media for preschooland primary-grade children, the Workshop seeks to ensure that digital media willcontinue to have a positive in uence, especially for children who experience toolittle educational stimulation.This report is intended to add insight for this conversation and to challenge colleaguesto keep a close eye on what young children are doing now and will soon be doing.The ndings establish clear trends, rebut the growing mantra that only new mediamatter, and should be cause for action by industry, scholars, practitioners, and parents.The report may also help reestablish principles that often get overlooked in the“Are media good or bad for kids?” debate. Media platforms by themselves are neutral;what matters most are the choices made by parents, educators, educationalproduction companies, and other content providers in order to encourage abalanced pattern of consumption. As we see it, the gures in this report providestrong evidence that children’s media habits are, in fact, out of balance. In the nalanalysis, we need higher-quality educational offerings to promote critical thinkingfor children and adults in their selection and use of media. While we can imaginea day when young children themselves will produce their own media, for the timebeing they are still counting on us!Lewis Bernstein, PhDExecutive Vice President Education and OutreachSesame WorkshopMichael Levine, PhDExecutive DirectorThe Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop 3
  6. 6. executive summary This report takes a fresh look at data emerging from studies undertaken by Sesame Workshop, independent scholars, foundations, and market researchers on the media habits of young children, who are often overlooked in the public discourse that focuses on teens and tweens. We reviewed seven recent studies — several never before released — about young children and their ownership and use of media. By focusing on very young children and analyzing multiple studies over time, we were able to arrive at a new, balanced portrait of children’s media habits. We also introduce portraits of children’s digital media use from a smaller qualitative study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center to add some tint and texture to the quantitative findings. Not everything we’re reporting here will be newsworthy. But taken in its entirety, the view is of a settled pattern: Even as technology evolves and young children increasingly turn to games and mobile media, they still love television best.4
  7. 7. Executive SummaryHere is a snapshot of our findings:• Children have more access to all kinds of digital media, and are spending more time during the day with them than ever before.• Television continues to exert a strong hold over young children, who spend more time with this medium than any other.• Not all children have access to newer digital technologies, nor do all children use media in the same ways once they do own them. Family income continues to be a barrier to some children owning technology, even as the price of devices falls.• Lower-income, Hispanic, and African American children consume far more media than their middle-class and white counterparts.• Children appear to shift their digital media habits around age 8, when they increasingly open their eyes to the wide world of media beyond television.• Mobile media appears to be the next “it” technology, from handheld video games to portable music players to cell phones. Kids like to use their media on the go. 5
  8. 8. introductionThere are 50 million Americans age 11 and under. Manychildren are increasingly drawn to digital media, usingtechnology in ways many of us couldn’t have imagined inour youth. Even for those of us in the media fields, it canbe hard to keep pace with the rate at which technologyseems to evolve (see Chart 1).The media habits of young children have changed over theyears as new technology emerges and becomes ever moreingrained into daily lives. As adults who work with youngchildren, teach them, and parent them, it is imperative thatwe understand the realities of children’s lives with media.
  9. 9. This report aims to portray the role of media in children’s lives today. To arrive atthis picture, we examined seven recent studies that focused on young children(covering a range of ages) and their ownership and use of media. Some questions wehoped to answer included: What media are children using in their non-school hoursand for which purposes? How much time do they spend with technology? Are there anytrends in children’s media use? And what are the implications of such developments?The studies we analyzed were merely descriptions of behavior, not an endorsementof that behavior. Our purpose here was simply to lay bare the facts of how childrenuse media today. We share no preconceived notions of how it should be — just thereality of the extent to which children are immersed in media today.At the heart of our ndings is the fact that media is a major presence in the everydaylives of young children. Not only are children exposed to increasing amounts andtypes of media, they are avid consumers as well.It’s worth noting that even though children spend signi cant portions of their daywith media, the current economic climate has affected media consumption asfamilies across America tighten their belts. About one-third of parents say theirchildren’s media habits have changed since the economy began to sour in 2008,most notably among lower-income families, who report an uptick in reading printedbooks or magazines and less mobile-phone texting.It’s important to remember that Always Connected is just a snapshot in time, andthat media and technology use several years from now may be different in quantityor kind than it is today. However, this report can offer critical background about thereality of children’s lives so that those who care about children can have a bettergrasp of, and make better decisions about, appropriate media use, regardless of themedia landscape. 7
  10. 10. Chart 1: Media use across the decades 1930s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Popular media Popular media Popular media Popular media Popular media Popular media Popular media platforms: platforms: platforms: platforms: platforms: platforms: platforms: Movies, print, Movies, print, Movies, print, Movies, print, Movies, print, Movies, print, Movies, print, radio radio, television radio, television radio, television, radio, television, radio, television, radio, television, cable television, cable television, cable television, cable television, Movies: Television: Television: arcade video home video home video home video Elementary- In 1950, The average games game consoles, game consoles, game consoles, school-age about 10% of 3-year-old portable music portable portable music children homes own spends about Television: players (i.e. music players, players, DVDs, estimated to a television; by 45 minutes Children as Sony Walkman), VCRs, home home comput- attend about 1960 almost viewing per young as VCRs, home computers, ers, portable twice a month 90% of homes day, increasing 12-months computers. portable handheld video (Dale, 1935). own a televi- as children viewing handheld video game systems, sion (Nielsen get older. television an Television: game systems, internet, cell Radio: Media Re- (Schramm, average of 1-2 Elementary internet, cell phones, MP3 Children 9 to search, 1998). Lyle, & Parker, hours a day school children phones players, DVRs, 12 years old 1962). (Hollenbeck & spend roughly electronic listen about Slaby, 1979). 2.3 hours a Television: interactive toys, 2-3 hours a Television day watching Children as internet-con- day (DeBoer, sets are on Television television young as 2 nected smart 1937; Jersild, for about 6 sets are on (Timmer, years old watch phones, tablet 1939). hours a day. for about 7 Eccles, & over 3 hours computers (Comstock, hours a day. O’Brien, 1985). a day (Nielsen Overall media 1989). (Comstock, Media Re- Television: exposure: 1989). Television search, 1998). Children under Children spend sets are on 1 spend about about 10 hours Cable for about 8 Computer and 49 minutes per week on television: hours a day. video games: a day using mass media FCC regula- (Comstock Children 8 to screen media; including radio, tions on cable 1989). 18 spend just children 2-3 television, begin to relax, under an hour years of age and records. allowing for a day on the spend about a substantial computer or 1 hour 51 increase in playing video minutes using the number games (Kaiser screen media of channels Family Foun- (Kaiser Family available for dation, 1999). Foundation, consumers 2006). (Park, 2001). Internet: Children 2 to Overall media 18 use the exposure: internet for Children 8 to eight minutes 18 are exposed a day (Kaiser to media for Family Foun- 10 hours 45 dation, 1999). minutes a day (Kaiser Family Overall media Foundation, exposure: 2010). Children 8 to 18 are exposed to media for 7 hours 29 minutes a day (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999).8
  11. 11. methodologyTo develop this report, Sesame Workshop reviewed sevenrecent studies from 2006 through 2010 on media use amongchildren of various ages:• Sesame Workshop Media Utilization Study, 2006 (1), fielded by Russell Research• Sesame Workshop Media Utilization Study, 2006 (2), fielded by Russell Research• Sesame Workshop Media Utilization Study, 2008, fielded by Russell Research• Sesame Workshop Media Utilization Study, 2009, fielded by OTX• Children, Families & Media: A Benchmark, 2007, Michael Cohen Group and U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn Program• Generation M²: Media in the Lives of 8-to-18-Year-Olds, 2010, Kaiser Family Foundation• Youth and Media…Television and Beyond, 2009, The Nielsen CompanyWe compared data from these studies — synthesizingcommonalities, pointing out important inconsistencies, andpulling in additional recent studies when appropriate — toillustrate a broad portrait of the relationship between youngchildren today and digital media.
  12. 12. Our goal was to focus on children ages to , Definition of termsin part because young children form the core ofSesame Workshop’s organizational interests, and Media ownershipalso because large portions of this age group tend A child or family’s access to a given medium. Into be overlooked by research on youth and media. this report, we interpret a child having access to aBut precisely because this age group has been medium if it is present in a child’s home, regardlessless studied, there is not a lot of available data of whether it is a household item or a child’scombined in one cohesive report. personal possession. Although we recognize that some children may have opportunities to use mediaLack of data was one factor complicating our effort even if their families do not own any (for example,to paint a picture of young children’s media habits. at a library or friend’s house), such access was notMany of the studies only partially overlap in their quanti ed here.target age groups, making direct comparisonsbetween studies dif cult. For example, two of the Media useSesame Workshop studies focused on children The amount of time spent actively consuming amonths to years old, while the Nielsen report given medium. Multitasking complicates accuratecovered children ages to . The Kaiser Family measures of media consumption. (See sectionFoundation study looked at children ages to , below for more on measuring media use.)with limited age-breakdown data available for -to- -year-olds. Media exposure The combined amount of media content children(See Appendix for a detailed methodology chart of the experience in a given day, including cumulativestudies, including sample size, ages studied, and dates time spent using more than one medium at a time.conducted.) Media multitaskingResearchers used different methodologies to The use of more than one type of medium at aconduct their studies (see section below about time (e.g., watching television while sur ng themeasuring media use), and each study was driven Internet).by different organizational interests (for example,market research vs. eld-building). Screen media Visual media consumed on a screen, such asOn the surface, it might appear impossible to make television, computers, and video games.sense of the seemingly disparate ndings fromthe seven studies. Taken as a whole, however,there are clear commonalities and trends in Ways to measure media usehow young children use media. The work begunwith this report is much needed in the eld as a Accurately measuring media use has been, andcomplement to the admirable work done by other continues to be, a dif cult challenge. Researchersgroups, such as the Kaiser Family Foundation. typically employ one of a variety of techniques to pin down how much media children use and theFinally, to add a human dimension to the facts kinds of content to which they are exposed. In theand gures that follow, we have included a few digital age, measurement questions are complicatedsidebars to illustrate how young children today by such seemingly simple questions as “What isengage with media in their everyday lives. The use?” Watching television used to be the primaryvignettes are based upon real children that the activity considered in use measures, but childrenCooney Center interviewed and observed in now grow up in a world that supports and some-and (all names are pseudonyms). times encourages multitasking, the ability to use multiple media at the same time. For example, what if children are texting while watching TV? Is there a way to accurately capture both elements of use? 11
  13. 13. The studies reviewed in this report use two main We believe both methodologies — self-reports methods: self-reports (in the forms of surveys, and electronic monitoring — offer advantages and interviews, and questionnaires) and electronic disadvantages, and we therefore report ndings that monitoring. The rst method, self-report, is a use each. In reporting television use, for example, quick way to get a global estimate of media use. there are sometimes large discrepancies between Researchers can quickly get answers to questions seemingly similar studies. Discrepancies between like: “How much time do you spend playing studies may be a result of time-measurement computer games on a typical weekday?” or “How issues, subtle differences in question wording, many days a week does your child watch PBS or cohort effects based on the year the study children’s shows?” Respondents typically answer was conducted. frequency questions on ordered scales that provide a range of answers, such as “never,” “one to three times a week,” “four to six times a week,” or “every day.” The advantage of using self-report methods is that they are relatively inexpensive and easy to administer to large groups of people. However, self-reports are subject to bias, especially if respondents are concerned with providing socially desirable responses. In the case of media use, there may be a tendency to underreport true time use. It may also be dif cult for people to accurately estimate their media use in the short time that people typically respond to survey questions. Most of the studies in this report use this methodology (see Appendix). Electronic monitoring by the Nielsen Company uses People Meters, which passively monitor television use in the home and are able to determine what channel is being tuned to and for how long. The People Meter allows users to indicate who is watching by pressing a button on the meter itself or on a special remote control. The button is pressed again to indicate that a user has nished viewing. Electronic monitoring can help relieve problems associated with bias or poor memory. It is also more accurate and relatively inconspicuous. However, problems can occur if users fail to indicate their viewing status by pressing the button on the meter or remote control. Additionally, People Meters are currently only viable for TV viewing in the home environment, so they are unable to measure other media use or TV viewing outside the home. People Meter estimates of TV viewing tend to be larger than other studies. This may be a re ection of greater accuracy, but it may also re ect user errors, such as people forgetting to turn meters off, resulting in an in ated time use estimate.12
  14. 14. key findings:FINDING 1:children’s exposure to and consumption of differenttypes of digital media are growing rapidlyTechnology has become a mainstay in the lives of mostAmerican children. As digital media has transformedadults’ lives — how we work, play, and get information —it seems natural that such technology has filtered downto our children’s lives as well.Today it is almost unimaginable for an American child tonot have a television at home. Television is ubiquitous, andso too are other media in the American home. As the price ofdigital technologies continues to fall, children of all ages arebecoming regular consumers of digital media. Not only domore children than ever have access to digital media, theyhave an increasing number of choices in the types of mediathey can own and use. The definition of a media “platform”has blurred as it has become possible to consume media ina variety of ways. Television, for example, can be streamedvia the Internet and viewed on a personal computer.Children’s books can be read on iPads. Cell phones canbrowse the Web, play video games, and hold a 5,000-songmusic collection, in addition to making calls. There is anever-increasing menu of options in how kids access content.Across all the studies reviewed for this report, the data painta picture of a generation whose early years are studded withgadgets and of media technologies that are rapidly integratinginto daily life across the income spectrum.
  15. 15. Which media are available to kids? trends is the rise in popularity of portable media devices. Not only do kids use the Internet or playChildren who attend school are captive consumers a video game on home computers or consoles;of information six to seven hours every day. In they like to do these things on the go via a laptopaddition, they are captivated by almost eight hours or handheld device. Children like their media toof media every day at home. move with them. For example, in the vast majority of families with computers had a desktopTelevision remains a universal technology, although model. Since then, desktop ownership has droppedrelated media like DVR and video on demand are by % while laptop ownership has jumped %,not. About % of families have cable or satellite to % of families.TV, but fewer than half of all young children havetelevision recording capabilities such as DVR or The popularity of portability is also evident inTivo. Video on demand access hovers at about %. children’s music consumption. More than % of families own a radio, CD player or stereo. ButThere is also a wide range of new digital tech- there has been a % drop in ownership of stereosnologies available to children and their families. since . At the same time, almost two-thirdsAbout two-thirds of families with children under of children now have an iPod or MP player, upage have computers, and virtually every family from just % in . The impact of new tabletthat owns a computer has an Internet connection. media devices, such as the iPad, is unknown.More than half have some type of video gamesystem. And about three-quarters of families Of course, not every medium is available to allhave cell phones (see Chart ). children. There are big differences in rates of ownership between households, particularlyThere’s more to this story than just the variety of by family income level, which are explored inmedia available to children today. One of the big depth in later sections of this report. Chart 2: Household ownership and new technologies 0-2 years: Sesame Street Media 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2006 #1 Utilization Study 2006 #2 3-5 years: Sesame Street Media 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media 100% Utilization Study 2006 #1 Utilization Study 2008 2-8 years: Children, Families, and 8-10 years: Generation M² Media – a Benchmark 0-12 years: Nielsen – Youth and Media 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% Computer Internet Cell MP3 Video game Learning Handheld Smart phone player/iPod console toys video games phone 15
  16. 16. What are kids using? Among very young children ( to ) who use the Internet, about 80% do so at least once a week. Not only do children have access to increasing At age , about one-quarter of children go online types of media; they consume more electronic daily, increasing to about half by age 5. And by age media than ever before. Use of virtually every type , more than two-thirds use the Internet on any of digital media has increased over the past decade. given weekday. , Children ages to average about minutes online daily. In , the oldest In a typical day, most young children read a book children in our review ( to ) spent about and watch television or DVDs (see Chart 3). Use of minutes on a computer every day (see Chart ). newer media, such as the Internet, video games, This is more than double the amount of time or portable music players, is not as universal and -to- -year olds spent online in ( minutes). varies with age. Although computer and Internet use are rising, Today, children ages to spend about . hours they are still just a fraction of children’s overall each day using media, but they’re actually exposed media use, and nowhere near the amount of to almost hours of media, because they use time spent with television. multiple media simultaneously. Most of that time, more than . hours per day, is spent with It is reasonable to assume, then, that children television. consume more media as they age. But it turns out that children ages to actually consume More children use the Internet regularly and for more television (including DVD and videos) longer periods of time than ever before. Most overall than -to- -year-olds. children who go online do so a few times a week, and unsurprisingly, usage increases with age. Chart 3: Percent of children who participate in activity in typical day 0-2 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2006 #1 0-5 years: Sesame Street Media 100% Utilization Study 2010 3-5 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2006 #1 6-9 years: Sesame Street Media 80% Utilization Study 2006 #2 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2008 60% 40% 20% 0% Watch TV Watch video/DVD Read books Play video games Use Internet Use MP3 player on console or handheld16
  17. 17. Of course, different digital media interest children doing so, either reading by themselves or beingat different ages. For example, most children don’t read to by an adult. Although most other formsstart using portable music players regularly until of media use have increased over time, print hasage , or playing video games (either portable or not, at least among children ages to .console) en masse until age . About % of - and -year-olds use handheld video games. By age ,usage more than doubles, to %. By the time a Media multitaskingchild turns , well over half of all children areusing video games. Each day, school-age children pack almost 8 hours of media exposure ( : ) into . hours ofThe only type of electronic media among those time. By using more than one medium at a time,surveyed that does not gain more users with age also known as media multitasking, children canare learning toys, de ned as electronic toys that up their media consumption and squeeze morepromote educational content, separate from video technology into their few non-school hours.games or computer games. Just about half of allchildren under age use some type of electronic Media multitasking is tricky to de ne, and justlearning toy. But usage drops to 33% of -to- - as dif cult to measure. According to Patriciayear-olds and to just % of -to- –year-olds. , Green eld (as cited by Wallis ), there are threeLearning toys is also the only category to show a types of media multitasking:drop in usage over time. In , for example, %of children ages to used learning toys regularly. 1. Combining media with a real-life interaction,By , that number had dropped to %. This such as texting at the dinner table.may re ect the preponderance of content forlearning toys directed at preschoolers rather than 2. Using two or more types of media at the sameolder children. This pattern may also be explained time, such as listening to a CD while playingby the increased availability of content available a video game.for elementary-aged children on other electronicdevices, such as the iPhone or iPod touch. 3. Engaging in multiple tasks within a single medium, such as listening to iTunes whileIt is important to mention that even in an era doing homework on the computer.of widespread electronic-screen exposure, printremains a constant in children’s media diets, How do children multitask? According to thealthough it varies dramatically by age. About % Kaiser Family Foundation, two-thirds of theof kids -to- -years-old read books most days of time older children ( th to th grade) are onthe week, and they spend about an hour per day computers they are multitasking, for example, Chart 4: Amount of time spent with medium in typical day, 8- to 10-year-olds 250 1999: Kids & Media at the New Millenium 200 2004: Generation M 2004: Generation M² Minutes 150 100 50 0 Computer Video Music Print Total TV games (all platforms) 17
  18. 18. simultaneously listening to music, sur ng the The Kids Closer Up boxes scattered throughout Web, and chatting with their friends using instant- this report are based upon ethnographic messaging tools, etc. While there is little data on research conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney multitasking for younger children, researchers at Center. Gabriela, Katie, Victoria, Cierra and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found Stephen are pseudonyms for real children that when television is on in a room, it disrupts interviewed and observed between 2008 toddlers’ toy play. The -to- -years-old children and 2009. in the study split their attention between what was happening on the TV screen and their toys. Their play episodes were shorter, and attention Kids closer up: A typical day media log during play was less focused as a result. Gabriela Perez is 8 years old and lives in a Nielsen, which traditionally measures television northeastern neighborhood of Los Angeles. watching via passive electronic monitors on home The following is a time log of her after-school television sets, has begun an effort to measure hours on an average Tuesday: usage of two screens simultaneously — TV and computer. The addition of a computer meter to 1:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m homes already measuring TV habits has yielded Watches TV (Disney Channel and some insight into the multitasking habits of ABC Family Network) children: Among children ages to , about % use the TV and Internet simultaneously. 2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Homework, interrupted by online video Nielsen has also begun to track video viewing viewing with Mom on mobile phones to assess screen consumption across three platforms. Multitasking research is 3:15 p.m. still in its infancy, and we hope this marks the Homework, done on coffee table in front beginning of further exploration into this topic of TV (Oprah) in coming years. 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Online gaming (Club Penguin) 5:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Goes with Mom to pick up Dad from work, calls cousin on cell phone during the drive 7:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Dinner 7:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Watches TV with Dad (Discovery Channel) 8:00 p.m. - 8:20 p.m. Plays Nintendo DS (Pictochat with next-door neighbor) 8:20 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Watches TV with parents until bedtime18
  19. 19. FINDING 2: Television usage among preschoolers is at an eight-year high, coinciding with the ability totelevision remains a watch TV in new ways, such as video on-demandmajor influence and DVR technology. Children ages to watch more than . hours ( minutes) of television in an average day.To a generation of media-savvy Sesame Workshop found that children ages toparents, television is as familiar spend . hours per day ( minutes) watchingand comfortable as an old family TV, and almost . hours watching videos ( minutes), for a total of about three hours each day.friend. As such, television is present Children ages through watch half as manyin virtually every American home, videos ( minutes), but more TV ( minutes), for a total of about . hours.part of the landscape for even theyoungest children. Compare these gures with time spent on other media — minutes on reading ( -to- -year-olds), hour on video games ( -to- -year-olds),TV is readily available to children and for the minutes on the Internet ( -to- -year-olds) —most part, is a routine part of their day. Even as and it’s clear that television remains the go-touse of other media rises, television persists. It is medium. The proportion of time spent with eachby far the dominant medium used by children medium is clearly weighted toward televisionages to . use (see Chart ).On a typical day, almost out of children over Even as children enter elementary school, spendingage watch television, compared with slightly several hours per day there, the data show barelymore than half of children who play video games or a drop in TV usage. For example, Nielsen trackinguse the Internet. Among toddlers and preschool- data shows that children ages to watch justers, more than % watch TV on any given day. about minutes less TV and video per day than preschoolers.To “watch television” today means not onlyviewing a program as it airs at a set broadcast time, If children are spending six to eight hours a daybut also via time-shifted TV options such as Tivo, in school, then they have fewer hours availableDVR, and on-demand. DVDs and videos are also to watch television than preschoolers, many oflargely consumed on television, adding additionaltime in front of the screen. The studies reviewedin this report did not count online video or Chart 5: Proportion of media time spent withYouTube as television viewing. each medium TVHow much TV are kids watching? Music 16% ComputersDuring the week, most children spend at least Video gamesthree hours each day in front of a television set, Other media 13% 47%and four hours on weekend days. Despite therange of ages covered by the studies in this review, 10%all paint a remarkably similar picture of televisionviewing habits. 14% 19
  20. 20. whom are not away from home all day. This percentage of daily TV viewing does occur in a means that even though -to- -year-olds child’s bedroom. Children ages to watch TV watch less television overall, they spend a higher in their bedroom almost % of the time. Among percentage of their non-school hours consuming children ages to , more than % of their TV TV programming. time occurs in their rooms. Television is so ubiquitous that it has, in essence, become the backdrop to family life. Not only is What are kids watching? it an active source of entertainment, but TV is also part of the ambient noise of a household, Public television remains popular among toddlers a constant background presence. In almost half of and preschoolers, especially in the mornings. homes ( %), TV is on most of the time even when Of children under age , PBS accounts for % of no one is watching it. Children in those constant morning television viewing, although they watch TV homes naturally watch more television overall. much more children’s cable programming overall. Background television can disrupt the quantity For this age group, PBS is the third most popular and quality of parent-child interaction, negatively channel in the morning, behind Nickelodeon affecting developmental outcomes that come ( %) and the Disney Channel ( %). from parent engagement and social interaction. There is a clear trajectory among regular PBS viewers, who peak at about age , and then Where are they watching? lose interest as they grow older (see Chart ). This is around the age when viewing of cable We live in an environment where media is programming increases and public television ubiquitous, even in the bedrooms of young viewing drops. children. The data show that as children grow older, they are more likely to have a TV set When -to- -year-old children turn on the in their bedroom (see Chart ). For example, television (or when an adult turns it on for them), one-quarter of -year-olds have a TV in their which channels do they choose to watch? Three bedroom, a gure that holds steady even in kid-centric cable channels — Disney, Nickelodeon, low-income homes. By age , well over half of and the Cartoon Network — followed by PBS. all children have bedroom televisions. , Coupled with those who watch one to three times per week, well over half of those channels’ Although children watch most of their daily viewers are regulars. PBS counts only % of its television in the family living room or den, audience as heavy viewers. Nielsen tracking data show that a substantial Chart 6: Televisions in the bedroom, by age 80% The Media Family 70% Children, Families, and Media – 60% A Benchmark 50% Generation M² 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 0-1 2-3 3 4-6 6 8 8-10 8-1820
  21. 21. The influence of TV Chart 7: Percentage of children who view PBS, by age and frequency of viewingTelevision content children once consumed onlyby sitting in front of a screen at a scheduled time Heavy viewers: 4x a week or moreis now available whenever and wherever they Medium viewers: 1-3x a weekwant, not only on TV sets in their bedrooms but Light viewers: Less than once a weekalso on computers, mobile phones, and handheld but still watchmedia devices, like iPods and iPads. Non-viewers: Never watchAcross the studies we reviewed, it’s clear that 31% 38% 21%television remains a strong in uence on childreneven as new delivery systems become available.For example, viewing video and TV programming 27%online is growing in popularity, especially among 22%the very youngest children. Parents indicate that 27%just over % of children under age watch video 15%online, although viewing decreases with age. 8% 39% 9% 36%That the very youngest children are watching 26%more online videos may simply re ect the realitythat they are at home, with a computer, for moretime than their older siblings. Also, “safe,” age-appropriate content is not available on TV for 0-2 years 3-5 years 6-9 yearssmall children all the time, so parents may turn Sesame Street Sesame Street Sesame Street Utilization Utilization Utilizationto on-demand sources like YouTube more often Study 2006 Study 2006 Study 2006for that age group. Study #1 Study #1 Study #2 Kids closer up: TV as constant companion For most of her half-hour stretch of homework each of the three bedrooms, and one in the kitchen. time, 8-year-old Katie Yamato is alone in the living Each, except the kitchen set, is connected to a DVD room. But a lot of activity takes place in the adjacent player. Other than overnight and when nobody’s rooms of the small house, spilling ambient sound home, at least one TV is usually on, whether or into Katie’s workspace. Grandma is in her bedroom not anyone is actively watching it. ironing and watching the local news on TV. Grandpa is in the dining room clicking away on his laptop, a On a recent night, Katie talks over math problems finance show airing on an unwatched TV is on in the with her stepmother while her father downloads lanai next door. And Katie’s stepmother is chopping music and movies in the office. Grandpa watches vegetables for dinner with the kitchen TV on, too. TV in the lanai and Grandma wraps holiday gifts while watching TV in her bedroom. Around 8 p.m., Television is a popular medium in the Yamato house. Katie, her father, and her stepmother settle in to Katie’s grandparents are both retired and pass spend the remainder of the evening watching a much of the day watching TV in their own separate DVD of the critically acclaimed, but R-rated, film spaces. They also regularly read the newspaper in Milk together. Katie ends up falling asleep around the mornings but keep AM talk radio or Good 9:30, well before the movie ends, because she Morning America on in the background. There are has school the next day and needs to get up five TV sets in the house: one in the lanai, one in before 7 a.m. 21
  22. 22. Still, among children -to- years old, the FINDING 3: proportion of total video content consumed online or on portable devices like iPods or cell digital divides still exist, phones is still about %, a substantial chunk in both access to and usage of time considering that the pioneer online video Web site YouTube was founded only in . of media More than one-third of children over age say their favorite Web sites are those tied to television The term digital divide typically networks (the Disney Channel Web site, PBSKids. refers to the gap, usually falling org, etc.). By large measure, the sources of the Web sites children are browsing are TV shows across income and ethnic-minority and networks ( %) and TV commercials ( %). lines, between children who have This raises the question of content: Traditionally, access to technologies, such as story lines were developed for a - or -minute the Internet, and those who do not. television program, with a distinct beginning and end. But with newer delivery platforms entering The research shows that the access homes, media producers are taking a closer look at divide is shrinking, although not by the idea of transmedia storytelling, or the concept of developing a story across multiple forms of media. much. As electronics drop in price — becoming affordable for more Transmedia storytelling takes the elements of a character’s narrative and applies them to the families — another divide persists: unique features of multiple media to extend the compared with their middle-income story and offer different entry points in the story. As media producers increasingly reimagine a peers, low-income children are story as content, we are seeing their intentions less likely to use digital media to played out as they, for example, drive kids from TV shows to the related Web site, and vice versa. build the type of knowledge and Sesame Workshop has done this with The Electric skills they will need to compete and Company, creating literacy content for a variety of platforms to be used in a variety of contexts. cooperate in the global economy. Among children who own or have access to a given technology, there is a noticeable difference in how much they use the media. Black, Hispanic, and low-income families typically consume more media across almost all platforms. , And yet, because low-income and ethnic-minori- ty children are less likely to have adult guidance when accessing the Internet, these children spend more time on lower-quality Web sites or activities that won’t help them develop school- based skills. For example, research has found that low-income children who use the Internet at libraries are more likely to visit Web sites that are more22
  23. 23. image-based and less text-based, missing out Chart 8: Percentage of families owning cellon opportunities to develop reading skills. phones with Internet access, by race/ethnicityAnother study found that compared with theirmiddle-income peers, children from low-income 30%homes prefer console video games to computer 20%games. This may have signi cant implications, 10%as students who play computer games are morelikely to engage in online literacy activities 0%related to their gaming (e.g., reading comments, White Black Hispanicusing walk-throughs, or viewing screenshots),compared with students who primarily play 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2008console games.By the numbers, then, the following sections Across the board, there are clear differences indescribe the differences in digital media ownership household ownership of digital media devices byand usage by income and by race. Taken as a whole, income level, especially among newer and moreresearch suggests that steady progress has been expensive technologies. For example, more thanmade in extending digital media such as home half of children from households earning moreInternet access to low-income and minority than , have wireless handheld devices,households. However, differences based on income compared with % from families earning ,and ethnicity are substantial, increasing the or less.potential for educational inequity. One other difference to note concerns the print medium: Access to children’s books does varyOwnership somewhat by household income. For example, low-income households own an average ofOlder media technologies, such as television and children’s books, compared with aboutVCRs/DVD players, are nearly universal in homes, in the highest-income homes. Newspapersregardless of income level or ethnic background. and magazines are also more prevalent in high-income homes.Children of different ethnic backgrounds haveaccess to many newer digital media devices —such as electronic learning toys, video games, and Computers and the Internetportable music players — at roughly comparable Overall, about two-thirds of American familiesrates. The notable exceptions are Internet access have computers at home, and almost all of themand cell phones. have Internet access (see Chart ). But there are differences between white children and theirFor example, access to a cell phones ranges Hispanic and black peers. Among -to- -year-from % for black children to % for Hispanic olds, more than % of white children have homechildren to % for white children. , Although Internet access, compared with about % ofwhite families are more likely to have cell phones, Hispanic and black children.black families are more likely than white orHispanic families to own Internet-equipped Roughly three-quarters of families earning morecell phones (see Chart ). In fact, a recent study than , have home computers with Internetconducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet access, with little distinction between the middle-and American Life Project found that for a and highest-income levels. However, only betweensigni cant portion of low-income and non-white % and % of families at the lowest end ofadults, cell phones are the only means of accessing the income spectrum — those earning ,the Internet and engaging in online activities. or less — have Internet access at home. 23
  24. 24. Although most households with computers are Cell phones wired for the Internet, connection types (broadband Mobile technologies appear to be the fastest- or dial-up) vary by demographic group. Among growing type of digital media, and cell phones are families earning more than , , the vast among the most popular devices, even among majority ( %) have broadband connections, while low-income households. About % of households more than a third of the remaining population earning less than , have a cell phone, uses dial-up. However, these gures are from compared with more than % of the highest- , and we expect that more families across earning families (see Chart ). , income levels will turn to high-speed Internet connections as companies bundle it with other There is limited data available to compare services, such as cable TV and telephone, and as smartphone ownership among families of federal initiatives to ensure broadband coverage different economic backgrounds, although the for everyone expand. It is also important to high cost of Internet connectivity on wireless note that children are able to go online in a devices may be prohibitive for families in low- variety of out-of-home contexts, including in to-middle-income households. Ownership of libraries, after-school centers, schools, and at Internet-equipped cell phones ranges from % friends’ houses. for families earning less than , a year to % of families earning more than , a year. Chart 9: Percent of homes with Internet access, by income 100% 0-2 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2006 #1 80% 3-5 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2006 #1 60% 2-8 years: Children, Families, and Media – A Benchmark 40% 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media 20% Utilization Study 2008 10% 0% Under $25k $25-50k $50-75k $75k+ Chart 10: Percent of homes with cell phones, by income 100% 2-8 years: Children, Families, and Media – A Benchmark 80% 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2008 60% 40% 20% 10% 0% Under $25k $25-50k $50-75k $75k+24
  25. 25. Video games portable ones, defy these conventional patternsVideo game systems, particularly handheld devices, of ownership. Roughly the same percentages ofdefy typical patterns based on household income. children have handheld video games whetherRates of ownership appear to be largely equal in all their family income is less than , or morefamilies earning more than , (see Chart ). than , .,, ,Estimates on the proportions of families owningvideo game systems vary by study. For example, UsageSesame Workshop found that among familiesearning more than , , about % of children Once lower-income and ethnic-minority familiesages to own video games. The U.S. Department own a given technology, their children are just asof Education shows numbers closer to %. likely to use it, if not more so. Across every digital platform, we have found that black and HispanicIn general, new technologies tend to be relatively children use far more media than white childrenexpensive, so people with higher incomes are (see Chart 12). And children from families withusually rst adopters. As prices drop, ownership lower incomes use more digital media overall,becomes more commonplace. Yet we found except for the Internet.that video-game systems, especially newer, Chart 11: Video games ownership, by income 100% 2-8 years: Children, Families, and Media – A Benchmark 80% 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media Utilization Study 2008 60% 40% 20% 10% 0% Under $25k $25-50k $50-75k $75k+ Chart 12: Percent of children 0-to-5-years-old participating in media activities, by race/ethnicity* 100% White Black 80% Hispanic 60% 40% 20% 10% 0% Video game Video games iPod/ Video on Watch a video *Sesame Street Media console handheld MP3 player demand on a handhled Utilization Study 2010 device 25
  26. 26. On a typical weekday, % of children ages to a given technology. Ownership and media usage is in the wealthiest households (earning more than also about perceived value. Families may not want , ) use the Internet, compared with % of new technologies, even if they can afford them. children in households earning less than , . Although children from the wealthiest families Several studies show a plateau effect in ownership access the Internet at greater rates, they spend of new media, or even a slight drop at the highest less time online than their lower-income peers. income levels. For example, there is little income difference in ownership of video games, but it Black children ages to are exposed to about tops out at % of households earning more than . hours of recreational media each day; Hispanic , a year. The same pattern holds true for children get more than . , and white children electronic learning toys: Use of this technology also about . . This is a difference of ve hours of shows a drop beyond certain income levels. , , media exposure per day between black and white children. These differences aren’t new, either: Over the past ve years, there has been a steady Chart 13: Total media exposure, 8-to-18-year-olds increase in media exposure for all children, but (hours:minutes) an especially large one — more than an hour — for black and Hispanic youth (see Chart ). 2004 Generation M 2009 Every medium, with the exception of print, follows Generation M² this pattern: Children from families with higher incomes (above , ) spend less time with 12:59 13:00 media (see Chart ). The differences also hold 10:10 true on weekends, when children’s overall media 8:36 8:52 consumption is higher. For example, on weekends, 7:58 children from families earning less than , spend minutes listening to music on MP players, compared with minutes for children from families earning more than , . The relationship between income and digital media White Black Hispanic is complex. It’s not just about being able to afford Chart 14: Weekday media use, in minutes 120 Less than $50k 5-9 years: $50k to $100k Sesame Street Media 100 $100k+ Utilization Study 2008 80 Minutes 60 40 20 0 TV viewing DVD viewing Internet MP3 Video game Handheld Read Texting minutes minutes console video game books26
  27. 27. Television Video gamesWhile virtually every household in America owns Among the youngest children (ages to ), minoritya television, regardless of income or ethnicity, black children play more video games on both consoleand Hispanic children watch more TV than their and handheld systems than white children do.white counterparts. This disparity persists as children age. BlackJust how much of a time difference that constitutes, children ages to spend more than an hourhowever, is hard to de ne. Sesame Workshop found each day playing handheld and console videothat among children ages to , for example, games, compared with minutes for HispanicHispanic and black children watch about children, and minutes for white children.minutes more television and DVDs every day thando white children. The Kaiser Family Foundation, By the time they reach the tween years, Hispanicwhich studied children ages to , found that children have caught up with their black peers,Hispanic and black children watch about two with both groups spending about minutes onhours more television every day than their white video games each day. White children ages tocounterparts and consume more media than spend about an hour.white children as they grow older. Black andHispanic children are also accessing more TV Cell phonescontent across all platforms, such as on the Black and Hispanic children under age are lessInternet, digital media players, and cell phones. likely to own cell phones than white children. , , Minority tweens and teens who do own phones,Internet however, spend more time talking, texting, andBlack and Hispanic children have less home using media on cell phones than white children.Internet access, but those that have access usethe Internet more than white children. Among What conclusions can we draw from parsing outchildren ages to , for example, Hispanic media ownership and usage by income and ethnicchildren spend almost two hours online each group? It’s clear that income affects a family’sday, minutes more than white children. ability to access digital media. What’s not clear is why lower-income and black and Hispanic childrenAmong younger children (ages to ), on a typical watch more television and consume more digitalweekday, % of white and black children use the media overall than their higher-income, whiteInternet, compared with % of Hispanic children. peers. Ronald Ferguson of Harvard University,But although black and white children access the among others, has suggested that low-incomeInternet at roughly the same rate, black children neighborhoods are not as safe and offer lessspend more time online per session ( minutes) suitable options for young children to play outdoors,than their white peers ( minutes). and thus parents choose to keep their children entertained indoors. Another possible explanationWhile income is not the most important predictor is that lower-income families are less able to affordof a child’s Internet usage, the ways children use the types of extracurricular activities, such as musiccomputers at home or in community settings or dance lessons, that higher income families cansuch as libraries does differ by income, as well as afford. Annette Lareau offers a third possibility thatethnicity. Children from higher-income families are may explain the variation in media consumption:more likely to use computers for creative endeavors Lower-income parents choose to let their childrensuch as making videos, for example, than children entertain themselves and trust they will turn outfrom lower-income families, who are more likely ne, while middle-class parents plan their children’sto play video games on the computer. after-school and weekend activities in an effort to cultivate certain skills necessary for the adult world of work. 27
  28. 28. Club Penguin: Meet me in front of the nightclub At 3:30 p.m. Stacey (age 7) and Jessica (age 10) Gabriela changes Caliope G’s outfit to something appear on the Guzman’s front stoop as they do more appropriate for nightclubbing. From the Club nearly every weekday afternoon to hang out with Penguin wardrobe, she picks a studded belt, neon Gabriela and Dora. Mrs. Guzman lets them inside. green arm warmers, a pair of black plaid sneakers, The girls usually play around the apartment complex, and blond wig to top it off. This is Caliope G’s favorite but today Mrs. Guzman asks them to stay in because ensemble for a night on the town. While Gabriela it’s cold outside, Dora’s got a cough, and because waits for Jessica C5 to light up on her Buddy List, Stacey is wearing just shorts and a T-shirt. she decides to check out Jessica’s new digs by clicking Jessica C5’s home button. It’s huge “So, you wanna do Club Penguin?” Gabriela asks compared with Caliope G’s igloo, and Gabriela is Jessica. a bit envious that Jessica has already earned enough coins for the palace upgrade. Gabriela “Okay. You can check out my new palace!” is, after all, the one who told Jessica about Club Penguin in the first place. Jessica and Stacey fly out the front door to their apartment across the courtyard, and Gabriela runs After snooping around Jessica C5’s palace, Gabriela upstairs to her parents’ bedroom. The computer is checks her Buddy List once again. It’s 4:00 p.m. already on, so it takes Gabriela just a minute to make and still no sign of her friend. Gabriela picks up her way to the Club Penguin homepage, where she the phone to dial Jessica’s house when Stacey logs on as Caliope G — Caliope is Gabriela’s middle and Dora come scampering upstairs. Breathless, name. Caliope G is a red penguin with long black hair Stacey explains that her sister is still just waiting — not unlike Gabriela’s — and is smartly dressed to get past the Christmas screen. Gabriela sighs. for the winter weather in blue jeans, a lavender Jessica’s family has a dial-up Internet connection, jacket, scarf, and mittens. so some days it takes her a really long time to get on to Club Penguin. Today is one of those days. Gabriela immediately opens and scrolls down her Buddy List to see if Jessica C5 is online. Nope, not “Go tell Jessica that I’ma play Ice Fishing now so yet. She decides to play Thin Ice while she waits. she can just call me when she gets online.” Stacey Gabriela uses the computer’s arrow keys to guide turns around and runs back to her apartment to the puffle¹ through a Pac-Man-like maze, earning deliver Gabriela’s message to her sister. coins for each tile the puffle melts in its wake. Fifteen minutes, 13 mazes, and 250 coins later, Jessica’s penguin and Gabriela’s cousin Stephen’s Gabriela remembers that she’s supposed to look penguin are the only two of the dozens on Gabriela’s out for Jessica. She pops open her Buddy List and Buddy List that stand for people she knows in real sees that Jessica C5 is still offline. Gabriela calls life. Gabriela says that she learns most about Club out to Stacey, who is playing with Dora in her Penguin from Stephen. He’s been playing for a while bedroom across the hall. now and has become quite skilled at the games, thanks to his friends at school and a Club Penguin “Where’s Jessica? Didn’t she say she was going guide he bought his sister Cierra for her birthday, and online?” plenty of practice. Stephen is the one who showed Gabriela how to play Thin Ice and Pizzatron 3000. Stacey and Dora drop what they are doing and rush from the next room to Gabriela’s side. Stacey Jessica, Stephen, and Cierra are the only other volunteers to check on her sister. As she skips off, people Gabriela coordinates with to be on Club Gabriela calls out, “Tell Jessica to meet me on Penguin at the same time. Even though she rarely Christmas² in front of the nightclub!” plays against them on one of Club Penguin’s28
  29. 29. multiplayer games, she enjoys seeing their avatars At 4:15 p.m., before the big fish has had a chanceroaming around in the same space as Caliope G. to swim into the scene, Jessica appears inOf the hundred or so Club Penguin servers she can Gabriela’s parents’ room. Dora and Stacey arechoose to log on to, “I like to go on Snow Angel,” behind her.says Gabriela, “because like my nephew goes onSnow Angel. But they’re all the same. But I’m used “What happened?” Gabriela asks without takingto going on Snow Angel.” This social aspect of her eyes off of the screen.the game — connecting with people she knows inreal life either about Club Penguin or inside Club “It’s so slow today! I couldn’t get online.”Penguin — is what Gabriela consistently highlightsas her favorite part about the virtual world: “That’s okay. Wanna see me try to catch the mullet? I’m about to do it right now!” It’s fun. I like to play it. And like when I’m at school, I ask my friends, “Oh, do you go Jessica, Stacey, and Dora all crowd around to Club Penguin?” And they’re like, “No, how Gabriela’s chair and watch as Gabriela reels in do you get on it?” And I show them, I tell them the big red fish for the first time. about it, and um… Just one classmate of mine goes to Club Penguin, and her name is Elena Guerrero. And she’s the only one that goes to Club Penguin.Still, as Gabriela says, there aren’t many kids atschool who are on Club Penguin yet. Technology-wise,Gabriela is well ahead of most kids at her publicelementary school. According to her school’s librarian,only about half of the families in this primarilyHispanic community have an Internet connection athome, or an Internet connection that can supporthigh-bandwidth activities like Club Penguin.Gabriela is excited to go ice fishing. She spoke withStephen yesterday, who shared a tip on how to catchthe big red mullet and score 50 bonus coins. All thistime she has been trying to hook it with a worm andhas thus far failed. Stephen told her that when themullet appears near the end of the game to keepthe last hooked fish on her line, and the mullet willchomp the bait. If Stephen is right, and she doesmanage to catch the big red mullet today, Gabrielaplans to share this strategy with Jessica and maybeeven Ellen Guerrera.¹ A puffle is a domestic animal that penguins can purchase and keep as pets. Puffles also star in various Club Penguin games.² Christmas is one of several Club Penguin servers that players may choose to play on when they log on. 29
  30. 30. FINDING 4: As they reach age , children are not only regularly using a wider selection of media, they are also media habits change more likely to personally own media devices. For around age 8 example, % of -year-olds have a television set in their room. By age , that number has almost doubled, to %. For a variety of reasons, children These observations make sense considering begin to extend their media habits the developmental changes occurring in most deeper into the digital realm children around ages and . This is a period when children are honing their ne-motor skills between the ages of 7 and 9. This and can more easily manipulate small keys, shift is evident in video-game use, gadgets, and controllers. for example. Just under half of Once children get to and years, they are able all 6-year-olds play video games, to focus on activities for longer stretches of time, and their memory, logical reasoning, and either on a console or handheld problem-solving skills sharpen. Children at this device, on an average day. By age age can also apply their literacy skills to operate or communicate with digital media (e.g., via 8, more than 70% do5 (see Chart 15). Internet searching or texting). Similar increases occur in Internet use. In a typical Children at this age are also starting to form day, about % of -to- -year-old children use the stronger, more complex relationships outside Internet, compared with about % of -to- -year- the family, especially with same-sex peers, and olds. , And within this -to- -year-old group, the showing more concern about group acceptance. numbers con rm the shift in media habits. Fewer Peer acceptance may be an important reason why than half of -year-olds ( %) use the Internet on music use jumps, as children look to share popular a typical day, compared with more than two-thirds culture with their friends. And video games are ( %) of -year-olds. a social context for many children, encouraging Chart 15: Percent of children using videogames, console or handheld on a typical weekday 100% 2-8 years: Children, Families, and Media – A Benchmark 5-9 years: Sesame Street Media 80% Utilization Study 2008 60% 40% 20% 0% 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Age30
  31. 31. cooperation and competition. They also begin toneed — and want — some alone time for activitiesthat do not require parental support.Also important are the environmental factorsat play that could affect media habits. Childrenare often in school environments, where they cantalk about and share a culture of media use. Mediaand device producers are important players inthe relationship between children and media.Recognizing that parents often use deviceslike smartphones to entertain children, mediaproducers are beginning to design for youngerand younger users. Kids closer up: Tech use among siblings, ages 7 and 8 Cierra, age 7, enjoys playing Club Penguin with them in with crayons and pens. Her parents had her brother, typically sitting side-by-side in front of to “change the [printer’s] defaults because we ran the laptop. But in general, she is less enthusiastic out of ink,” but Cierra then figured out how to the about the virtual world and interactive media than change those, too, so she could continue coloring “8-year-old Stephen is. Given the choice, she prefers this way. They attribute their daughter’s fascination to watch TV or play with her Barbie and Polly Pocket with this activity to the fact that the outlines are dolls than get online or play with the Wii they coming from the Internet. More likely, though, got for Christmas. Both siblings used to take Cierra is still at the developmental stage at which word-processing lessons at their after-school physical objects are more engaging than virtual program, but according to Cierra, “Now I don’t ones. The productive aspect of the online coloring like it; so only he does it.” book may also explain their appeal — Cierra likes creating things. While she enjoys occasionally When Cierra does go online, she often visits the playing the Wii with Stephen, she prefers designing Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel a Wii Mii characters to playing the games themselves. web sites. Here she recently discovered online In fact, “I get scared I might lose on boxing, so I coloring books and, according to her father, went mostly just play by myself.” The competitive aspect “print crazy.” Cierra figured out how to print the of video games is apparently a turnoff for Cierra. outlines on the family printer so she could color 31

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