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How much screentime are children getting?

The amount of screen time that young children usually engage in may differ between countries, however the answer is typically a lot!

The amount of screen time that young children usually engage in may differ between countries, however the answer is typically the same – a lot! In 2013, Common Sense Media conducted a nationally representative study of 0-8 year-old children in the USA to answer this very question.


  • 0-2 year-old children averaged 58 minutes per day of screen time, mostly from watching television (44 minutes) or DVDs (11 minutes), respectively.
  • For 2-4 year-olds, average screen time increased to 1 hour and 58 minutes per day, approximately 75% of which was from television viewing (approximately 1 hour) and DVDs (26 minutes). Playing games (7 minutes) or watching TV/video (6 minutes) on a mobile device were the next largest contributors to total daily screen time in 2-4 year-olds.

Time Spent With Media, By Age, 2013 (Common Sense Media, 2013)

Graph showing time that children 0-8 years old spend with media, 2013 (Click to expand)

Other interesting findings

Children’s access to mobile media devices was dramatically higher than it was two years earlier. The percentage of children with access to some type of “smart” mobile device at home (e.g. smartphone, tablet) jumped from half (52%) to three-quarters (75%) of all children in just two years.

Almost twice as many children had used mobile media in 2013 compared to 2011, and the average amount of time children spent using mobile devices had tripled. 72% of children age 8 and under had used a mobile device for some type of media activity such as playing games, watching videos, or using apps, up from 38% in 2011. In 2013, 38% of children under 2 had used a mobile device for media (compared to 10% two years ago). The percentage of children who use mobile devices on a daily basis – at least once a day or more – had more than doubled, from 8% to 17%.

Access to mobile media devices and applications among poor and minority children was much higher in 2013 than 2011, but a large gap between rich and poor persisted. Access to high-speed internet among lower-income families had essentially stalled over two years (it was 42% in 2011 and 46% in 2013), and the gap between rich and poor remained (86% of higher-income families had high-speed access in 2013). On the other hand, the gaps in mobile ownership, were reduced. For example, access to smartphones had gone from 27% to 51% among lower-income families over two years, while tablet ownership had gone from 2% to 20% among the same group. In 2011, 22% of lower-income children had ever used a mobile device; in 2013 65% had done so.

Conversation starter

  • Do any of these findings surprise you? What surprised you and why?
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