Tech-Savvy Tikes: 80% of Kids Under Five Use the Internet

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A new report shows that nearly 80 percent of American children between the ages of 0 and 5 use the Internet on at least a weekly basis. The report also states that children ages 8 to 10 are exposed to a whopping 8 hours of media a day, including television, video games and the Internet.

The report, called "Always Connected: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children," was released on March 14 by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Sesame Workshop, two education non-profit organizations. After analyzing the findings of seven recent studies, the report concludes that young children are increasingly using all types of digital media, from portable music players and DVDs to interactive online games like Club Penguin.

Television is the main way that children meet their daily media quota, accounting for 47 percent of the time that children spend plugged in. Most children spend at least three hours a day watching television during the week, according to the study, and television use among preschoolers is the highest it has been in the past eight years, with 80 percent of toddlers and preschoolers watching TV on any given day.

The popularity of television content may even be contributing to the rising number of kids using the Internet , as parents in one of the report's studies indicated that just over 60 percent of children under age three watch videos online. Although this percentage decreases as children get older possibly because school-age children spend less time at home, the report suggests 8 to 18-year-old children reported in another study that they get about 20 percent of their video content online (thanks to sites like YouTube and Hulu), on portable devices like iPods and on cell phones with Internet access .

"The definition of a media 'platform' has blurred as it has become possible to consume media in a variety of ways," the report states. "Television, for example, can be streamed via the Internet and viewed on a personal computer. Children's books can be read on iPads. Cell phones can browse the Web, play video games, and hold a 5,000-song music collection, in addition to making calls. There is an ever-increasing menu of options in how kids access content."

However, good old-fashioned reading hasn't been edged out by all this rapidly growing media about 90 percent of 5- to 9-year-olds who participated in a 2008 Sesame Workshop study reported spending at least an hour every day reading physical texts like books and magazines .

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Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.