US Kids and Digital 2018

US Kids and Digital 2018

What Matters and What Doesn’t for These Digital Natives

Executive Summary

Yes, kids are digital natives, but of a peculiar sort. Most lack smartphones, and few use social media. Yet, digital usage is highly important to them—so much so that the amount of time they spend using screens is a focal point of parental worry.

Do kids have smartphones?

Mostly not. We estimate that just more than one in 10 kids ages 11 and younger have smartphones of their own. Many parents see the harms of a smartphone outweighing the benefits for kids.

Do kids use online social networks like Facebook and Snapchat?

Again, mostly not, with our estimates identifying barely one in 10 children ages 11 and younger as users. Even among those who are internet users, fewer than one in five use social networks.

Are kids watching lots of digital video?

This is a digital strong point for kids. Among kids who are internet users, three-quarters are digital video viewers, and YouTube has a big presence among them. This doesn’t mean kids shun traditional TV, and our estimate shows the 11 and younger cohort averaging more than 2 hours a day with it.

Is kids’ screen time still a fraught issue for parents?

It sure is. Multiple surveys find parents feeling their kids spend too much time with screens, as in one survey where three-quarters of parents declared their kids are more addicted to digital devices than to candy. But it’s hard to push back against such usage, with another survey showing digital activity is kids’ favorite form of play.

Any new technologies in the mix for kids?

Smart speakers have started catching on, in part because some parents view them as a benign alternative to screen time. Voice technology is a natural for kids who can’t yet read and write.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report examines the distinctive patterns of digital usage by kids—digital natives who generally lack smartphones and are shut out of social media, but who nonetheless indulge in copious amounts of screen time.

KEY STAT: Digital video has a large audience among kids, and YouTube is a key part of that—despite instances of child-unfriendly content that they sometimes encounter on the platform.

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Mark Dolliver


Chris Bendtsen
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Jennifer Pearson
Research Manager
Shelleen Shum
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Andrea Szasz
Forecasting Analyst