TOP > Data > Digital Media and Children > [Survey of Media Use by Children and Parents] 1-8. When Children Started to Use Media

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[Survey of Media Use by Children and Parents] 1-8. When Children Started to Use Media


Young children start to watch TV programs by the age of 1 and watch videos/DVDs by the age of 2. Regardless of their age, children have started using tablet devices and smartphones in the past one to two years. As for gaming players, it appears that children begin to use them between ages 3 and 5 or 6.

Young children start to watch TV programs by the age of 1 and watch videos/DVDs by the age of 2

When do young children start to use media? Although not all families own media devices, we looked at the percentage of media use by age group and asked the starting age of media use/watching for each media category. The results are shown in Table 1-8-1.

Table 1-8-1 Starting age of media use (by children's age groups)

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With respect to TV programs (recorded programs included), more than 70% of children between 6 and 12 months started to watch them and more than 80% of the children in all age groups over age 1 had started to watch them before turning 2. (The percentage of children who had started to watch TV by the age of 1 in each age group: 96.4% of 1-year-olds, 93.8% of 2-year-olds, 87.5% of 3-year-olds, 87.2% of 4-year-olds, 82.2% of 5-year-olds, and 80.3% of 6-year-olds.) As for videos/DVDs, more than 30% of children between 6 and 12 months started to watch them and about 80% of 1-year-olds had started to watch them before turning 2. More than 80% of those in all age groups above 2-year-olds had started to watch them before turning 3. (The percentage of children who were watching videos/DVDs before turning 3 in each age group: 92.0% of 2-year-olds, 92.5% of 3-year-olds, 89.7% of 4-year-olds, 85.5% of 5-year-olds, and 81.6% of 6-year-olds.) It seems that children watch TV programs and videos/DVDs from a relatively young age.

On the other hand, as for smartphones, 22.1% of 1-year-olds started to use them before turning 1, and 18.8% of 1-year-olds started to use them at around age 1. Among 2-year-olds, 23.6% started to use them when they were around age 1, and 20.4% started to use them around age 2. On the other hand, 23.9% of 6-year-olds started to use smartphones when they were about age 5 while 16.5% of them started around age 6. Children in all age groups have started to use smartphones in the past one to two years.

Regardless of their age, children have started to use tablet devices and smartphones in the past one to two years. As for gaming players, they start to use them between the ages of 3 and 5 or 6

Now we would like to focus on families who own "tablet devices," "smartphones," "console-type gaming players," and "handheld gaming players." With respect to "tablet devices" (Table 1-8-2), 26.6% of 1-year-olds started to use them before turning 1, and 19.6% of 1 year-olds started to use them when they were around 1. Among 2-year-olds, 24.6% started to use them when they were around age 1, and the same percentage of 2-year-olds started to use them when they were around 2. Among 6-year-olds, 38.7% started to use them at around age 5, and 15.3% started when they were around 6, indicating that they all have started using them within the past one to two years. As for "smartphones" (Table 1-8-3), 30.3% of 1-year-olds started to use them before turning 1, and 24.6% of 1-year-olds started around age 1. Of 2-year-olds, 34.9% started to use them at around age 1, and 29.8% of them started at around age 2. Of 6-year-olds, 37.3% started to use them at around age 5, and 23.9% started at around age 6, also indicating that they all started to use them during the past one to two years. Considering the launch and distribution of the new types of media, it seems that both parents and children alike have started to use them around the same time.

Table 1-8-2 Starting age of tablet use in families owning the devices (by children's age groups)

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Table 1-8-3 Starting age of smartphone use of children whose mothers own smartphones (by children's age groups)

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With respect to gaming players, in particular, console-type gaming players, 76.3% of 3-year-olds, 53.6% of 4-year-olds and 33.5% of 5-year-olds have "never used" them. This percentage decreases by 23.2 percentage points from age 3 to 4, and by 20.1 percentage points from age 4 to 5, showing a drop of approximately 20 percentage points as the age goes up (Table 1-8-4). As for the starting age, children suddenly started to use them between the ages of 3 and 5. The same tendency was apparent in handheld gaming players as well. By age group, children who had "never used" them accounted for 73.2% of 3-year-olds, 51.7% of 4-year-olds, and 32.5% of 5-year-olds. This percentage decreases by 21.5 percentage points between ages 3 and 4 and by 19.2 percentage points between ages 4 and 5, showing an approximate 20 percentage-point decrease with each year, and also usage suddenly starting between the ages of 3 and 6 (Table 1-8-5).

Table 1-8-4 Starting age of console-type gaming player use in families owning the devices (by children's age groups)

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Table 1-8-5 Starting age of handheld gaming player use in families owning the devices

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How will tablet devices and smartphones become regular features in the daily life of young children?

The study revealed that young children seem to be familiar with media use since relatively early ages as they have TVs and videos/DVDs at home from when they are very young. With respect to the new media devices such as tablet devices and smartphones, both children and parents alike had started to use them at the same period. On the other hand, as for gaming players, although having younger children in the family is correlated with a higher percentage of ownership, the study shows that children actually start to use them after 3 years of age, after which use increases rapidly. Will tablet device and smartphone be introduced in the life of children from early childhood like TV and videos/DVDs in the near future? Or will parents control the media use by children's age just as they do for gaming players? The answer probably lies in the extent to which the apps/software contain educational elements.

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