Digital childhood: electronic media and technology use among infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

Pediatrics. 2007 May;119(5):e1006-15. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-1804.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communications Media / trends
  • Data Collection*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Technology* / trends
  • Television* / trends
  • United States