Objectives: The objectives of this study were to describe media access and use among US children aged 0 to 6, to assess how many young children fall within the American Academy of Pediatrics media-use guidelines, to identify demographic and family factors predicting American Academy of Pediatrics media-use guideline adherence, and to assess the relation of guideline adherence to reading and playing outdoors.
Methods: Data from a representative sample of parents of children aged 0 to 6 (N = 1051) in 2005 were used. Descriptive analyses, logistic regression, and multivariate analyses of covariance were used as appropriate.
Results: On a typical day, 75% of children watched television and 32% watched videos/DVDs, for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, on average. New media are also making inroads with young children: 27% of 5- to 6-year-olds used a computer (for 50 minutes on average) on a typical day. Many young children (one fifth of 0- to 2-year-olds and more than one third of 3- to 6-year-olds) also have a television in their bedroom. The most common reason given was that it frees up other televisions in the house so that other family members can watch their own shows (54%). The majority of children aged 3 to 6 fell within the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, but 70% of 0- to 2-year-olds did not.
Conclusions: This study is the first to provide comprehensive information regarding the extent of media use among young children in the United States. These children are growing up in a media-saturated environment with almost universal access to television, and a striking number have a television in their bedroom. Media and technology are here to stay and are virtually guaranteed to play an ever-increasing role in daily life, even among the very young. Additional research on their developmental impact is crucial to public health.