Dramatic Rise in Mobile Use by Toddlers in the U.S.

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In this increasingly digital age, is it really any surprise that American toddlers and infants now spend more than twice as much time with tablets or other mobile devices that they do with books?

According to the most recent national survey of children’s media use in the United States released by Common Sense Media, ownership of tablets in families with children aged eight and under has leaped from 8% to 40%. The percentage of children with access to a smart mobile device at home has risen from about half (52%) to three in four (75%).

Among the study’s findings:

  • The average amount of time children spend using mobile devices has tripled, from five minutes a day to 15 minutes a day (the average daily use among all 0- to 8-year-olds);
  • The number of kids who’ve used mobile devices has nearly doubled (38% to 72%);
  • 38% of toddlers and infants under 2 have used a mobile device, compared to 10% in 2011.

The survey also found that access to mobile media among poor and minority children is significantly higher than it was two years ago. However, a digital divide still remains. While 20% of lower-income kids have a tablet, some 63% of higher-income ones do. Also, 35% of lower-income parents have downloaded educational apps for their children, compared to 75% of their more affluent neighbors.

However, the television clearly still reigns supreme in most homes. Nearly six out of 10 children (58%) watch TV at least once a day, compared to just 17% who use mobile devices daily.