Kids Are Media Users Too

“Go to your room!” doesn’t have the same impact on kids as it used to, as a Knowledge Networks/SRI study finds that a significant number of children have various media and entertainment devices in their bedrooms. Based on interviews with 245 children ages 8 to 17, the firm found that the kids’ domain is rife with media usage.

According to the study, 61 percent have a television in their room, and while 17 percent of the kids have a computer mouse planted next to the TV remote control, only 9 percent have Internet access. More than half the kids surveyed (57 percent) said that all their Internet usage takes place in their rooms, and 61 percent of their parents enact rules restricting Web use. Comparatively, 69 percent of kids without a Net connection in their rooms have parental restrictions.

Online safety is a major issue, according to an America Online/Digital Marketing Services, Inc. (DMS) survey conducted in Opinion Place among more than 2,000 kids aged 7 to 12, and parents. An overwhelming 88 percent of respondents indicated that there are discussions about online safety among kids and parents. Interestingly, more than 60 percent say that Mom is the best at using the computer in the household, while only 2 percent say that a sibling is the best in the house.

Kids’ Favorite Online Activities
Playing games 87%
Homework and conducting research for school 60%
Sending e-mails 53%
Watching videos, movies, or cartoons 36%
Listening to music 63%
Instant messaging 33%
Reading celebrity and music group information 27%
Reading about movies and TV shows 27%
Source: AOL/DMS

Malcolm Bird, AOL senior vice president and general manager of Kids and Teens, noted that kids are incorporating the Internet into the parts of their lives that are most important to them — playtime and school. “Today’s kids are becoming increasingly sophisticated about the online medium,” said Bird.

Top “Youth Wired” Cities
Tampa/St. Petersburg 47%
Philadelphia 45.5%
New York 44.6%
Washington DC 41%
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale 39%
Chicago 38.6%
Boston 37%
San Francisco 37%
Detroit 36%
Houston 34%
Dallas/Ft. Worth 33%
Los Angeles 30.1%
Atlanta 30%
Minneapolis/St. Paul 29.4%
Seattle/Tacoma 26%
Note: The study ranked the 15 “youth wired”
cities based on which cities have the highest
percentage of kids online between five and
seven days a week.
Source: AOL/DMS

Knowledge Networks found that nearly half (46 percent) of the kids with TV in their rooms do all their watching on that set. The study also found that 35 percent have a videogame system in their room, and 14 percent have their own DVD player.

Kids and TV Usage
Activity Kids With
TV in Room
Kids Without
TV in Room
Multitasking while watching 75% 65%
Visited Web site as a result of a TV ad 43% 24%
Parental rules for TV viewing 50% 61%
Source: Knowledge Networks/SRI

Further analysis from Knowledge Networks reveals that children with cable-connected TV sets in their rooms spend an additional 1.25 hours with television every day, compared to kids with no in-room sets.

Gender differences are noted as well:

  • Girls 9 to 11 are the most prolific media multitaskers, combining TV and Internet, TV and radio, and other vehicles more often than boys or younger girls
  • Girls 9 to 11 who watch relatively little television spend 46 percent of their media time with magazines and the Internet
  • Boys 6 to 11 who spend 90 minutes or more a day playing videogames also watch an extra 25 minutes of TV daily

“Kids with own-room media access represent an important subgroup of media users,” said David Tice, Knowledge Networks/SRI vice president, Client Service. “Their behavior is more self-directed, in terms of linking media with each other and with other activities, and they have less parental supervision. Understanding the patterns of media behavior indigenous to children’s rooms will only become more important as kids acquire more technologies.”

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