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[Survey of Media Use by Children and Parents] 1-5. Scenes of Media Use in Daily Life


With respect to media use in the daily life of young children, mothers tend to let their child watch TV and videos/DVDs at home when they are busy with housework or use a smartphone while waiting for something when they are out. When mothers are smartphone users, they tend to show their child smartphones more.

About 30% of children watch TV programs (including recorded programs) during mealtimes at home. About 20 to 30% of children use smartphones while waiting for something when they are out

In what scenes of everyday life do young children watch or use media devices? Although not all families own media devices, the percentages by age group are shown in Table 1-5-1.

Table 1-5-1 Scenes of Media Use in Daily Life (by children's age groups)

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Firstly, when mothers are busy with housework, over 70% of children in all age groups, except for those between 6 and 12 months, watch TV programs (including recorded programs), which is a higher usage rate compared to other media: 77.2% for children aged 1 year, 76.1% for those aged 2 years, 77.9% for those aged 3 years, 78.3% for those aged 4 years, 79.3% for those aged 5 years, and 73.6% for those aged 6 years. As for watching videos/DVDs, 40-60% of those aged between 1 and 6 years watched them, in particular, over 60% of 3 to 4 year-olds.

Secondly, during mealtimes at home, over 30% of all age groups watch TV programs (including recorded programs), a higher percentage compared to other media devices: 31.5% for children aged 1 year, 34.6% for those aged 2 years, 36.6% for those aged 3 years, 37.4% for those aged 4 years, 38.0% for those aged 5 years, and 38.2% for those aged 6 years. However, during bedtime before falling asleep, less than 10% of all age groups watch or use media devices in all categories.

What about media use when children are out or in transit? With respect to primarily mobile media use while out, the results show that 20-30% of all age groups use smartphones, which is higher compared to other mobile media: 21.3% for children aged 1 year, 27.5% for those aged 2 years, 30.8% for those aged 3 years, 32.6% for those aged 4 years, 28.3% for those aged 5 years, and 25.2% for those aged 6 years.

With respect to media use while travelling in a car or on the train, other media devices for watching TV programs and videos/DVDs in a car or train in addition to mobile media were considered. The result shows that 23.7% of 3 year-olds, 23.7% of 4 year-olds and 24.2% of 5 year-olds watch videos/DVDs and 21.0% of 3 year-olds, 20.3% of 4 year-olds use smartphones, a higher percentage than the other media devices. This indicates a new tendency for parents and children to use media devices even when they are out.

Higher smartphone use by children of mothers who use smartphones

Table 1-5-2 shows smartphone use by children's age group in cases where the mothers are smartphone users.

Table 1-5-2 When mothers let their child use their smartphones (by age groups)

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When mothers are busy with housework, over 70% of children aged above 1 year watch TV programs (including recorded programs) and 40 to 60% of those above 1 watch videos/DVDs. On the other hand, more than 10% of children aged above 2 years use smartphones, which is the third most used media after TV programs and videos/DVDs: 10.5% for children aged 2 years, 15.1% for those aged 3 years, 10.1% for those aged 4 years, 15.4% for those aged 5 years, and 13.9% for those aged 6 years.

While waiting for something or someone when they are out, over 40% of children of all age groups above 2, a relatively high percentage, use smartphones: 42.6% for children aged 2 years, 47.5% for those aged 3, 49.0% for those aged 4, 42.7% for those aged 5, and 41.1% for those aged 6. While travelling in a car or on a train, more than 20% of children aged above 2 years watch videos/DVDs and about 30% of children of all age groups above 2 years old use smartphones (27.1% for children aged 2 years, 30.9% for those aged 3, 30.7% for those aged 4, 29.0% for those aged 5, and 31.1% for those aged 6,) which indicates that children are more exposed to smartphones than videos/DVDs.

Children take the initiative in using media devices at different ages: smartphones after the age of 1, TV programs and videos/DVDs after the age of 2 and gaming players after the age of 3

Who takes the initiative when using media devices, parents or children? We studied the use of media devices by age group in two situations: when fussy children are given media devices to use and when children want to use them and do so on their own initiative (Table1-5-3). We would like to focus on media use showing more than a 5-point difference between usage initiated by the parent when children are fussy and self-initiated usage when children want to watch or use them.

Table 1-5-3 When children use media devices (by age groups)

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With respect to TV programs (including recorded programs), children between 6 and 12 months and 1 year-olds are given these media to watch or use more when they are fussy. However, children over the age of 2 watch or use these programs more on their own initiative. The same tendency is seen in the use of videos/DVDs. By contrast, smartphones are used by children between 6 and 12 months when they are fussy, but children over the age of 1 watch or use them when they want to. For gaming players, among children over 3, both the console-type and handheld type are more likely to be used when children want to watch or use them. With respect to handheld type gaming players, 51.6% of children aged 6 years use them when they want to.

New types of media can be used whenever and wherever--a feature which makes them child-friendly

With respect to TV programs and videos/DVDs, the results correspond to the analysis of the "Third Questionnaire on Daily Life of Children in Japan" by Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute: "At the age of 2, 60.2% of children have favorite TV programs that they want to watch, indicating that 2-year-olds choose their favorite program when watching TV." Children seem to take the initiative when watching TV and videos/DVDs when they reach 2 years old and above. With respect to gaming players, as discussed later in Section 8 "When Children Started to Use Media," children suddenly start to use them between the ages of 3 to 6, which possibly shows that parents control their usage until then. Therefore, the tendency of children to take the initiative in media use intensifies when they reach the age of 3 and above.

As for smartphones, the result shows that children at the age of 1 and above tend to take the initiative in using them, which is much earlier than TV programs and videos/DVDs. Since smartphones are kept around the parents most of the time, they are presumably becoming a familiar device for young children who spend much time with their parents. Some parents responded in the free comment space that "children tell us they want to use the smartphone after we take photos of them with it," etc. As shown in Table 1-5-3, children aged above 1 and 2 also tend to take the initiative in using tablet devices, just as they do with smartphones. Most new media devices such as smartphones and tablet devices feature a touch-panel system, which enables children to watch videos or enjoy drawing whenever and wherever they want. Parents may have to consider how they want their children to use media devices.

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