Saturday, June 17, 2023

5 Surprising Statistics About Kids and Screens


The technology train has left the station and reshaped childhood in the process. The following statistics illustrate the influence of screens and tech on the daily life of kids. It’s important to note that not all of the statistics are negative. Depending on its use, technology has positive, neutral, and negative effects on the lives of kids and families. 

Yet, as I researched and wrote The Phone Book, I learned that this generation of kids and parents is navigating tech without solid guardrails. Congress is working on several laws to help protect kids online, but so far, few have made it through Congress. 

These five statistics give a snapshot of Generation Z and today’s parents’ struggle navigating screen time.

children lying on sofa and using gadgets
Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

Five Statistics About Kids and Screens:

  • More than half of 11-year-olds in the US have a smartphone, and this age is trending younger every year. According to a Stanford study, the average age at which children received their first phones was 11 years old. Phone acquisition climbs steeply between 10 and 12 years of age. 
  • Almost 40% of tweens (ages 8-12) have used social media, according to a 2021 report by Common Sense Media. The minimum age to use social media is 13 on most sites, however, the lack of meaningful age verification means many kids get on social media earlier. 
  • Tweens average five hours and 33 minutes of daily screen use. Teens average eight hours and 39 minutes daily (Common Sense census: Media use by tweens and teens, 2021). This is above and beyond the time they spend on screens for schoolwork. 
  • According to a Common Sense Media survey, the average age that kids report being exposed to online porn was 12.
  • A recent Pew study found that 80 percent of teens say social media provides a space for connection with peers, creativity, and an opportunity to seek support.

These statistics inspired me to write The Phone Book, which releases in summer 2023. Cell phones are powerful tools that can be used in positive or negative ways. From FOMO to disinformation to digital footprints, The Phone Book explores it all, including the dark side of tech. I’m hopeful this book will serve as a guide to help kids stay safe online, be informed consumers of tech, and develop healthy digital habits.

About Jessica Speer:

Jessica Speer is the author of books for kids and teens, including the forthcoming, The Phone Book – Stay Safe, Be Smart, and Make the World Better with the Powerful Device in Your Hand (Releasing Summer 2023). Her first book, BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends), was a 2022 Kids Choice Book Award finalist. Blending science, stories, humor, and fun activities, her writing unpacks tricky stuff that surfaces during childhood and adolescence.

She has a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences and a knack for writing about complex topics in ways that connect with kids. Jessica regularly contributes to media outlets on content related to kids, parenting, friendship, and social-emotional learning. For more information, visit www.JessicaSpeer.com

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