42 percent of American children under eight-years-old own a tablet computer, according to a report.
Axios reported that the number is “up from less than 1% in 2011,” noting that, “Families with young children are now more likely to have a subscription video service such as Netflix or Hulu (72%) than they are to have cable TV (65%).”
“10% of kids age 8 or under own a ‘smart’ toy that connects to the internet,” they continued. “And 9% have a voice-activated virtual assistant device available to them in the home, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.”
The research, conducted by Common Sense Media, also discovered that 95 percent of families “with children age 0 to 8 now have a smartphone (up from 63 percent in 2013 and 41 percent in 2011),” while “78 percent have a tablet (up from 40 percent in 2013 and 8 percent just six years ago, in 2011).”
The “digital divide” between higher and lower-income families has also started to close, according to Common Sense Media.
“Since 2011, the gap in high-speed internet access between higher-income and lower-income families — the ‘digital divide’ — has been cut down from 50 to 22 percentage points (96 percent of higher-income families have high-speed internet versus 74 percent of lower-income families),” the report proclaimed. “The gap in overall mobile device ownership has virtually disappeared (3 percentage points), due to the number of lower-income families that now have a smartphone.”
“Children from lower-income homes spend an average of 1:39 more time with screen media each day than those from higher-income homes (3:29 vs. 1:50),” they continued. “Children from homes with lower parent education consume more screen media than children from homes with higher parent education (2:50 vs. 1:37).”
In a statement, Common Sense Media Founder James P. Steyer pointed out the potential benefits and risks to the increasing tech use by children.
“In today’s tech-driven world, where things are moving so quickly, it is really important to step back and take a hard look at what technology kids are using and how they are using it,” Steyer declared. “Over the last six years, we have seen massive growth in media use and tablet ownership, and we haven’t even begun to experience the explosion of new technologies like virtual reality and voice-activated assistants in our homes. If we want to ensure our kids develop well and are successful in life, we have to make sure they get the most out of tech while protecting them from potential risks — and that means paying close attention to the role media is playing in their lives.”
“It is promising to see many of the gaps closing when it comes to access to technology and devices among all segments of our population,” he added. “Technology is integral to success in our world, and every child deserves access to it. Over the last several years, we have seen the digital divide and app gap closing, which is a very positive development for our country.”
In March, it was reported that 82 percent of children in “Netflix-only” homes don’t know what commercials are, while 38 percent of those in houses with a television were also unaware of the word.