'App Gap' Emerges Among Rich and Poor Families

Children in wealthy families use more apps than those in low-income families.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Belgen
    A young child plays with an Apple iPad. More than one third of families making less than $30,000 annually didn't even know what an "app" was.

    Children under 8 are getting way too much screen time. And a new study reveals a "substantial digital divide" as different families are putting different screens in front of their children.

    Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group in San Francisco, released its study Tuesday. It surveyed 1,384 parents across the country, looking at screen time from birth. It suggests that children in wealthy families are using more apps, while those in low-income families watch more TV, the New York Times reports.

    “The app gap is a big deal and a harbinger of the future,” said James Steyer of Common Sense Media. “It’s the beginning of an important shift, as parents increasingly are handing their iPhones to their 1 ½-year-old kid as a shut-up toy."

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has said for years that screen time gives no benefits to children under 2, yet families surveyed said only 14 percent of doctors ever brought up media usage with them. See the study's specifics below.

    For families earning more than $75,000 annually:

    • Nearly half had downloaded apps for their young children
    • 20 percent of children under 8 had TVs in their bedrooms

    For families earning less than $30,000 annually:

    • Just one eighth downloaded apps for their young children
    • 64 percent of children under 8 had TVs in their bedrooms
    • More than one third didn't even know what an "app" was

    For all families:

    • Half of children under 8 had access to some sort of mobile device
    • About half of children under 2 watched TV or DVDs for about 53 minutes on an average day
    • Almost one third of children under 2 had TVs in their bedrooms
    • About 12 percent of children 2 to 4 used a computer daily
    • 24 percent of children 2 to 4 used a computer at least once a week
    • 22 percent of children 5 to 8 used a computer daily
    • 46 percent of children 5 to 8 used a computer more than once a week
    • The average child using a computer started at age 3
    • Young children were read to for just 23 minutes on an average day

    You can read a summary or download the full report here.