US Kids 2020

Still Growing into Their ‘Digital Natives’ Label

About This Report
This report looks at how digital technology fits into the daily lives of US kids—digital natives who, compared with teens and young adults, aren’t really all that digital.

Executive Summary

Today’s kids are more digital than previous generations at the same age. But at this stage in their lives, they’re less digital than people 10 or 20 years older. (In our forecasts, we define “kids”—the younger end of Gen Z—as those who are 11 and younger.) Above all, they’re still children, eager to play and to be told stories.

Do kids tend to have smartphones and social media accounts?

No on both counts. We estimate that just 11.9% of kids 11 and younger have a smartphone. The figure is higher for older kids—73.0% among 11-to-13s, in one survey—but still lower than among teens and adults. As for social media, we estimate penetration for children 11 and younger is in low single digits on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

What about some other digital tools?

Tablets are important for kids, and nearly half of kids 11 and younger are users. Wearables penetration is negligible. Smart speakers have caught on with older kids, though (according to one survey) just 17% of 8-to-12s are everyday users.

Has digital video replaced TV in kids’ media mix?

Digital video is certainly a big deal (YouTube in particular). Still, we estimate that nearly half of kids 11 and younger are not users. TV penetration is much higher (close to nine in 10), but time spent is declining. It remains to be seen how Disney+ might reshape kids’ video/TV landscape.

How popular is video gaming among kids?

Very, especially mobile gaming. One survey said three in 10 kids ages 7 to 12, and about the same percent of those 6 and under, play online games every day. There’s a wide gender gap, with boys more engaged than girls.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report will examine the distinctive contours of kids’ digital usage, with these digital natives at a life stage where video and gaming are a bigger deal than smartphones and social media.

KEY STAT: TV, digital video and gaming (especially mobile gaming) are central to kids’ media usage. By comparison, social media’s presence is marginal.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. They’re Analog Natives, Too
  3. Not-So-Connected Kids
  1. The YouTube Generation
  2. Kids as Players
  3. Key Takeaways
  1. eMarketer Interviews
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Michael Baer
Ipsos Media Development
Senior Vice President, Brand and Marketing
Interviewed December 5, 2019
Kathi Chandler-Payatt
The NPD Group
Executive Director, Media Entertainment Industry Analyst
Interviewed December 9, 2019
Jane Gould
Disney Channels Worldwide
Senior Vice President, Consumer Insights and Programming Strategy
Interviewed December 9, 2019
Michael Preston
Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
Executive Director
Interviewed December 6, 2019
Stephanie Retblatt
Smarty Pants
Executive Vice President, Chief Brainiac
Interviewed December 9, 2019

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Mark Dolliver


Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst