Further data on children’s expanding use of digital media may not come as a surprise. But a study released today by Common Sense Media also reveals a persistent digital divide, in particular, inequities surrounding access to newer mobile devices.
While kids ages 0 to 8 are spending a good portion of their screen time (27 percent) with digital media, there’s a new “app gap” developing between higher- and lower income families in terms of both access to and use of mobile devices, according to the study “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America.”
When it comes to smartphones, only 27 percent of kids ages 0 to 8 from lower-income families have access to these devices compared to 57 percent of kids from families earning $75,000 or more. As for tablets, including the iPad, access is even more limited—just two percent of poor children have one in the home, as compared to 17 percent of kids in the higher income group. One in 10 lower-income children has a video iPod compared to one in three from upper-income households.
The discrepancy between rich and poor extends to the use of apps as well as educational content. Thirty-eight percent of lower-income parents don’t know what an “app” is. A scant 14 percent have downloaded an app for their children to use, compared to 47 percent in higher-income households. A majority of wealthy children (55 percent) have logged use time on a cellphone, iPod or iPad, whether that’s playing games watching video, or using apps. For poor kids, that use of mobile devices drops to 22 percent.
About one in four (28 percent) of all kids in the 0-8 age group have used an educational gaming app (i.e. puzzles, math, or reading programs). But there are stark differences along economic lines. Forty-one percent of children with a family income of $75,000 a year have used educational apps, compared to 16 percent of kids from household earning less than $30,000 a year.