2009 - Neilsen - TV Viewing Among Kids at an Eight-Year High

"American children aged 2-11 are watching more and more television than they have in years. New findings from The Nielsen Company show kids aged 2-5 now spend more than 32 hours a week on average in front of a TV screen. The older segment of that group (ages 6-11) spend a little less time, about 28 hours per week watching TV, due in part that they are more likely to be attending school for longer hours." - Neilsen Wire (Oct 2009) via Unplug Your Kids

2010 - Kaiser Study (Released Jan 2010)

According to the study, kids 8-18 are spending, on average:

4:29 hours per day watching TV

4:54 hours per day watching TV/movies

7:38 hours per day plugged into media (TV, movies, music, computer, video games, print)


Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds (pdf)

From page 4  "Children who live in homes that limit media opportunities spend less time with media. For example, kids whose parents don’t put a TV in their bedroom, don’t leave the TV on during meals or in the background when no one is watching, or do impose some type of  media-related rules spend substantially less time with media than do children with more media-lenient parents.

From page 4  "Nearly half (47%) of all heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly C’s or lower), compared to 23% of light media users. Heavy media users are also more likely to say they get into trouble a lot, are often sad or unhappy, and are often bored. Moreover, the relationships between media exposure and grades, and between media exposure and personal contentment, withstood controls for other possibly relevant factors such as age, gender, race, parent education, and single vs. two-parent households."

2008 - Child Trends - 4 Hours or More

2008 - Child Trends - Watching TV

"Television watching as traditionally measured has declined in recent years, especially among younger students.  The percentage of eighth-, tenth-, and twelfth-graders who reported watching four or more hours of television on an average weekday decreased between 1991 and 2008, with the largest drops occurring in the younger age groups.  (See Figure 1)"

2008 - Figure 1

2008 - Percentage of children watch 4 or more hrs per day by Parents Educational Attainment

Students whose parents have a high level of education are less likely to be heavy weekday television watchers than students whose parents have low levels of education.  For example, among tenth-graders in 2008, 34 percent of students whose parents did not complete high school watched four or more hours of television on weekdays, compared with 14 percent whose parents completed graduate school. (See Figure 3)

2004 - Percentage of children watch 4 or more hrs per day by Parents Educational Attainment

2008 - Child Trends - 1 Hour or Less

2008 - Child Trends - Watching TV

The percentage of students at each grade level who watched one hour of television or less per day increased between 1991 and 2008, from 20 to 32 percent among eighth-graders, from 29 to 37 percent among tenth-graders, and from 38 to 43 percent among twelfth-graders. (See Table 1, Table 2, and Table 3

However, as noted earlier, television content is now available on a variety of devices.  Using this more inclusive definition of TV watching, use among 8-18-year-olds increased between 2004 and 2009.  Children ages 11-14 watched the most TV content in 2009 (five hours and three minutes daily).20"

2008 - Percentage of children watch 1 or less hrs per day by Parents Educational Attainment

2004 - Child Trends

2004 - Child Trends - What percentage of children watch 4 or more hrs per day

Figure 3

2003 - Kaiser Study

New Study Finds Children Age Zero to Six Spend As Much Time With TV, Computers and Video Games As Playing Outside - Media Release

According to this 2003 Kaiser Family Foundation Study

"This report is based on the results of a nationally representative, random-digit dial telephone survey of 1,065 parents of children ages six months to six years old..." (page 35)

Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers


Chart 12 (page 7)

Educational Value of TV (page 17)

Chart 6 (page 5)

2000 - U.S. Department of Education

2000 - Percentage distribution of 4th-graders, by time spent on homework and television viewing each day and selected student and school characteristics: Selected years, 1992 through 2000

Percentage of 4th-graders, by time spent on television viewing each day, year 2000 and year 1992:






One Hour or Less



2 Hours



3 Hours



4 Hours



5 Hours



6 or more Hours



Same table simplyfied:






One Hour or Less



1 to 2 Hours



Over 2 Hours



So, in the year 2000, 52% of 4th graders were watching TV for more than 2 hours per day.

And, in the year 2000, 35% of 4th graders were watching TV for more than 3 hours per day.

Kids Watching TV - American Statistics

"New research suggests children are far exceeding the two-hour daily limit recommended by pediatricians"  -  The Atlantic (Dec 2014)

"TV Watching and Computer Use in U.S. Youth Aged 12–15, 2012" - CDC (July 2014)

"It is important to note that socioeconomic status confounded the results for race/ethnicity, and the association between race/ethnicity and media time across the sample was no longer statistically significant after adjusting for family socioeconomic status. However, significant differences were found between parents of ethnically/racially diverse children and parents of non-Hispanic white children regarding the perceived positive effects of TV viewing, even when parental education and family income were taken into account." - JAMA Pediatrics (August 2013)

"There's more evidence to suggest the USA's epidemic of childhood obesity is stabilizing, and the reasons may be that kids are eating better and watching less TV." - USA Today (Sept 2013)

"In fairness, this isn’t a majority but, with the sole exception of video games, parents ascribe all sorts of benefits to media use, which, I’ll readily admit, I find utterly bewildering but I will report anyway. Television is seen as a positive influence on reading skills by 38%, on math skills by 36%, and on speaking skills by 56%. (!) 47% find television has a positive effect on creativity." - Psychology Today (Sept 2013)  and  Northwestern University (June 2013)

"A relatively small number of families—just 16% of those surveyed—are “media light” meaning that they spend less than 2 hours a day on screens and their kids spend even less." - Psychology Today (Sept 2013)  and  Northwestern University (June 2013)

"How much time parents spend watching television is the single biggest determinant of how much their kids watch, a survey showed." - MedPage (July 2013)  and  Yahoo Health (May 2014)

"Media-light families are much rarer—just 16% of all families: These parents average less than two hours a day with screen media (1:48). They watch TV for just under an hour a day (:54) and use their computer at home for just over a half hour a day (:34). Beyond that, they spend very little time with screen media, including using a smartphone (:10); using iPads, iPod Touches, or similar devices (:07); or playing video games (:03). They are much less likely to put a TV in their child’s bedroom (26%, compared to 44% in media-centric homes). These families are less likely to enjoy watching TV or movies together a lot as a family activity (32%, compared to 53% of mediacentric families); and media-light parents are less likely to use TV to occupy their child when they need to get things done around the home (67%, compared to 81% of mediacentric parents) or when they are getting their child ready for bed (24%, compared to 42% among media-centric parents). Children in media-light families spend an average of 1:35 a day using screen media." - Northwestern University (June 2013)

"Those efforts have indeed shrunk the divide. But they have created an unintended side effect, one that is surprising and troubling to researchers and policy makers and that the government now wants to fix. As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites, studies show. This growing time-wasting gap, policy makers and researchers say, is more a reflection of the ability of parents to monitor and limit how children use technology than of access to it." - The New York Times (May 2012)

"Educational TV is the one type of educational content that lower-income children are more likely to consume than higher-income children are (26% often watch vs. 17% among higher-income families)." - Commonsense Media (Oct 2011)

"The new school year has started and the school routine is back. A European study led by Spanish researchers has shown how the proportion of young people who watch television and play on the computer for more than two hours per day doubles at the weekend. And while boys opt for video games, teenage girls prefer to surf the net." - Science Daily (Sept 2010)

"The results, published in the July issue of the journal Preventive Medicine, show that teenagers devote more time to sedentary behaviour (in front of a screen) at the weekend."  -  e! Science News (Sept 2010)

2010 Kaiser Study - "Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds" - Kaiser Family Foundation (Jan 2010)

"Kids Spend Nearly 55 Hours a Week Watching TV, Texting, Playing Video Games..."  -  The Daily Green (Jan 2010)

"The amount of television usage by children reached an eight-year high, with kids ages 2 to 5 watching the screen for more than 32 hours a week on average and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours. The analysis, based on the fourth quarter of 2008, measured children's consumption of live and recorded TV, as well as VCR and game console usage." - Los Angeles Times (Oct 2009) 

"California's low-income teenagers have a lot in common: Sugary soda. Fast-food restaurants. Too much television. Not enough exercise. The result: Low-income teenagers are almost three times more likely to be obese than teens from more affluent households, according to new research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research."  -  eScience News (Dec 2008)

"While most teenagers (60 percent) spend on average 20 hours per week in front of television and computer screens, a third spend closer to 40 hours per week, and about 7 percent are exposed to more than 50 hours of 'screen-time' per week, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention." - Science Daily (March 2008)

"The average American kid sees between 30 and 50 hours of food commercials on TV every year -- 90 percent of them for junk food, and none for fruits and vegetables -- according to an extensive study of children's and teen's viewing habits released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Menlo Park nonprofit group." - San Francisco Chronicle (March 2007)  and  Post Gazette (March 2007)  and  Kaiser Family Foundation (March 2007)

"Recent data suggest, however, that U.S. youngsters from infancy to age 6 watch an average of one hour of TV daily, and that 8-to-18-year-olds watch an average of three hours daily." - MSNBC (July 2005)

"This Policy Information Report pulls together many of the measures that reflect what goes on outside school and within the realm of the home in terms of educational achievement. Topics include television watching, homework, parent involvement, family resources, absence from school, and reading at home."  -  ETS.org (1992)

Young Children Watching TV - American Statistics

"Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013" -  Common Sense Media (Oct 2013)

"A total of 596 parents of children ages 3 to 5 years completed demographic questionnaires, reported on attitudes regarding media's risks and benefits to their children, and completed one-week media diaries in which they recorded all of the programs their children watched." -  Science Daily (June 2013)

"They found the average child aged 8 months to 8 years is exposed to nearly 4 hours of background television over a 24-hour period. Both younger children and African American children are exposed to more background television, at an average of 5.5 hours per day, and children from the poorest families were exposed to nearly 6 hours per day. Children in families who left the television on when no one was watching, and children who had TV sets in their bedrooms, were exposed to more background TV. The study establishes the pervasiveness of background TV in U.S. homes with children."  -  American Academy of Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  MedPage Today (Oct 2012)  and  Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  CBS News (Oct 2012)

"The average American child is exposed to 4 hours of "background" television per day, researchers found. Children ages 8 to 24 months spent an even higher average of 5.5 hours around the TV while doing other activities, reported Matthew Lapierre, MA, of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and colleagues."MedPage Today (Oct 2012)  and  Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  American Academy of Pediatrics (Oct 2012)

"A new study has discovered that children in the United States are being exposed to nearly four hours of background television each day, HealthDay News and various other media outlets reported earlier this week.  As part of the study, researchers surveyed more than 1,450 English-speaking households with children between the ages of eight months to eight years old. They then looked at various other demographic variables, including gender, ethnicity, race, age, and family income, and discovered that younger children and those of African-American heritage were exposed to the highest rate of background TV noise."RedOrbit (April 2012)   and   WebMD (April 2012)

"New research out of the University of Cincinnati finds that young children are watching TV, videos and other screen media while parents are trying to take care of other tasks in the home." - Science Daily (June 2012)

"As family income and education levels increase, time spent consuming media decreases, with the bulk of that decrease coming from less time spent watching TV, which wasn't the case in the 2005 study." - Ars Technica (Dec 2011)

"TV continues to dominate children’s media use.... In a typical day, 47% of babies and toddlers ages 0 through 1 watch TV or DVDs, and those who do watch spend an average of nearly two hours (1:54) doing so." - Common Sense Media (Oct 2011)

"Young kids are watching too much television, some averaging more than five hours a day, a new study suggests.

The findings include screen time at home and in different child care settings. And nearly 70 percent of the preschool-age children exceeded recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for limiting screen exposure (including TV, DVDs, computers and video games) to one to two daily hours." -  Live Science (Oct 2010)  and  Science Daily (Oct 2010)   and  CNet News (Nov 2010) 

"Nearly a fifth of two-year-old children in Oregon spend at least two hours per day watching television, CDC researchers say."MedPage Today (July 2010)

"Children who attend home-based day-care programs are watching twice as much television per day as was previously thought..." - The Washington Post (Nov 2009) and The Answer Sheet (Nov 2009)

"It’s not called the electronic baby sitter for nothing. The Nielsen Co. says in a study released Monday that children ages 2 to 5 watch more than 32 hours of television each week." - Entertainment Daily (Oct 2009) and Nelson Wire (Oct 2009) and The Los Angeles Times (Oct 2009)

"Approximately 40 percent of three-month old children and about 90 percent of children age 24 months and under regularly watch television, DVDs or videos, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine." - Science Daily (May 2007)

"Couch potatoes are getting younger: Forty percent of infants are regular TV viewers by the time they are only 3-months old, before they can even sit up on their own, a new study finds. “Early television viewing has exploded in recent years and is one of the major public health concerns facing American children,” said lead author Frederick Zimmerman of the University of Washington. The trend increases in toddlers, his research shows. At 2 years old, 90 percent of children are parked in front of the tube watching TV shows, DVDs or videos for 10 to 20 hours a week, Zimmerman found in a survey of 1,000 Minnesota and Washington families with a child born in the previous two years." - Live Science (May 2007)

"Although parents believe in the educational value of TV, DVDs and videos, just 32 percent of parents always watched with their children. Parents also had an inflated idea of how much of these media other children were watching and believed that their children viewed less than the average amount. The study indicated that the perceived average viewing for other families is 73 percent higher than the actual average. "At the end of the day the amount of TV viewing is based on what parents think is normal," said Zimmerman. "Perceptions of norms tend to shape behavior even if those norms are inflated."" - The Medical News (May 2007)

"Despite warnings, most U.S. babies watch TV" - Reuters (May 2007)

"Heavy TV viewing under 2 is found. Ignoring risks, parents cite 'educational' value." - Boston.com (May 2007)

Watching Children Watch TV - Washington Post (May 2006)

Many parents encouraging tots to watch TV - MSNBC (May 2006)

New Study Shows How Kids’ Media Use Helps Parents Cope - Kaiser Family Foundation (May 2006)

Report finds pre-schoolers use media as much as play outside - CNN (Nov 2003)

"The study also found that single mothers and mothers with less education are more likely to have children whose TV viewing exceeds AAP guidelines. And, children who watch at least three hours of TV a day at age 2 are more than twice as likely as other children to watch at least three hours a day at age 6." - About.com

Kids Watching TV - British Statistics

"In Britain, more than a fifth are overweight or obese by the time they start school, according to official figures."  -  Mail Online (April 2012)

"They found that almost three-quarters of British kids spend more time watching TV in a week than they do playing outside.

Around 36% of kids say they only play outside once a week or less."  -  First News (Aug 2010)

"British children spend an average of five hours and 20 minutes in front of screens a day, a shock report has revealed. The startling figures show youngsters are wasting more time watching TV than they were five years ago, when they were spending four hours and 40 minutes staring at screens. "  - Mail Online (Jan 2008)

"But smart kids with educated parents watch less TV and spend more time reading books, the national study of more than 3000 four and five-year-olds shows." - Child Up (July 2007)

Poorer children 'watch more TV' - BBC (July 2007)

"A poll of 2,100 children conducted by the Telegraph has found that half of eight to 14-year-olds watch a minimum of four hours of television a day during term time.  Even more time is spent in front of the television at weekends and holidays, with some children more than doubling their daily viewing."  - The Telegraph (July 2004)

Kids Watching TV - Australia Statistics

"A study of more than 4500 Australian pre-schoolers found kids of part-time mums eat less junk food, watch less television and are less likely to be overweight or obese."  - Courier-Mail. (Feb 2010)

"Research by the hospital indicates that very young children in Australia spend more time watching television than in any other activity. Four-month-old children watch an average of 44 minutes of television daily, while children under 4 years with pay TV at home spend at least three hours a day in front of the screen. "  - Times Online U.K. (Oct 2009)

"Kids as young as three are so addicted to technology that they themselves turn on the TV and watch it for over nine hours a week, a study has found."  - Medindia (Dec 2008)

Kids Watching TV - Canadian Statistics

"As Canadian children and youth grow older, time spent playing outdoors diminishes almost by half. The result is that they become glued to the screen – dramatically exceeding the guideline of two hours per day – and consequently receiving an “F” grade for Screen Time in this year’s Report Card."  -  YMCA of Nigara News (April 2011)

"5 Ways Parents May Be Sabotaging Their Kids’ Health"  -  YMCA of Nigara News (April 2011)

Kids Watching TV - World Statistics

"Nearly 40 per cent of pre-school girls in Spain are now classified as overweight or obese, academics discovered. The four-year study also found that more than one in eight children overweight in northern Europe - rising to more than 25 per cent in parts of southern Europe."  -  Mail Online (April 2012)

"The study, carried out in five Spanish cities (Granada, Madrid, Santander, Murcia and Zaragoza), analyses the link between a family's socioeconomic level and the time that teenagers devote to three sedentary activities -- watching television, playing videogames and studying, all outside school hours. The conclusions of this study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, confirm that young people exhibit different sedentary behaviours depending on the socioeconomic situation of their family. In addition, the kind of work that their parents do has more impact on the amount of time they spend on these sedentary activities than their education does. The pattern of these findings, which confirm the trends seen in other European countries, is that teenagers are significantly more sedentary in families where mothers do not work outside the home."  -  Science Daily (June 2011)

Reading Statistics

"Although American children still spend part of their days reading, they are spending less time doing it for pleasure than decades ago, with significant gaps in proficiency, according to a report released on Monday." -  Huffington Post (May 2014)

"Children who attend home-based day-care programs are watching twice as much television per day as was previously thought..." - The Washington Post (Nov 2009) and The Answer Sheet (Nov 2009)

"Children as young as seven are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, figures show, fuelling fears over a decline in reading."   Telegraph (May 2010)

"This chartbook provides both national and state by state information about whether parents are meeting the recommendation of daily reading aloud to their children ages 0-5 years. Reading Across the Nation is designed as a resource for policymakers and professionals who are working to optimize the early language and literacy experiences of young children. Drawing on data from the National Survey of Children's Health (2003), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (2005), and Reach Out and Read (ROR) National Center this chartbook presents "reading snapshots" for each state, with comparative rankings on key literacy indicators." (pdf) - Reading Foundation (Oct 2007)

"The latest National Endowment for the Arts report draws on a variety of sources, public and private, and essentially reaches one conclusion: Americans are reading a lot less."


Children in England read less outside school and the performance of bright youngsters has dropped since 2001, according to an international research report published today.


NAEP Reading Assessment