Skip to Content

Kids Under 9 Stare at Screens For More Than 2 Hours Every Day, Survey Finds

Children Using SmartphonesChildren Using Smartphones

While doctors regularly warn of the dangers of using TVs, smartphones, and other screens as babysitters, that’s not stopping parents from doing it.

A new survey from Common Sense Media shows kids aged 8 and younger spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes per day staring at screens—with mobile devices becoming an increasingly large part of that behavior. On average, the report finds, a child under nine will spend more than 16 hours per week looking at some sort of screen.

The average child under 9 spends 48 minutes a day staring at a smartphone or tablet. That’s more than three times as many minutes as they did just four years ago.

That’s probably because more and more kids own their own phone or tablet. The report, released Thursday, found 42% of children 8 and younger have their own tablet devices, a steep increase. Four years ago, that number was 7%. In 2011, just 1% of children had a tablet.

If there’s good news in this report, it’s that the average screen time has stayed fairly consistent with past years. Kids are spending their screen time differently, but they’re not spending more time in front of a screen.

TV still commands the most attention, with an average of 58 minutes per day. And roughly half of children 8 and younger watch TV or play videogames in the hour before bedtime—something experts have said can severely disrupt sleep patterns.

Perhaps more distressing? The report found that kids under nine now spend more time on mobile devices than they do reading or being read to by their parents (which comes in at just 30 minutes).

Also notable is the difference in screen time broken down by income levels. Children from homes that make under $30,000 a year spend an average of 3 hours and 29 minutes with screen media each day. That’s considerably higher than the 1 hour and 50 minutes of screen time for kids in homes that make more than $75,000 a year.