Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

One-third of adults (and half of parents) now own a tablet computer

We just released a new report yesterday showing that a third (34%) of all American adults ages 18 and older now own a tablet computer. This includes almost half (49%) of adults ages 35-44 and 50% of parents with minor children living at home.

We have received some questions about how parents are using devices such as tablets and smartphones with their children—a fascinating topic, as parents seem to have a complex relationship with technology and its role in parenting. We know, for instance, that even though parents are more likely to read e-books than adults without minor children at home, the vast majority (81%) of parents say that it is important to them that their children are exposed to print books.

A new report (PDF) by researchers at Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development further explores parents’ views of their children’s media use—specifically parents of children from birth to eight years old. (Here’s a Chicago Tribune summary of the report for time-pressed readers.) Some highlights:

  • Parents use media and technology as a tool for managing daily life, but books, toys, and other activities are used more often. Parents say they are more likely to  use books, toys, and other activities when they need to keep children occupied than they are to use TV; and they are much more likely to use TV than to use mobile media devices.” (p. 4)
  • Parents do not report having many family conflicts or concerns about their children’s media use. Nearly eight in ten parents [77%*] disagree with the statement ‘negotiating media use causes conflicts in our home,’ compared to [21%*] who agree with it.” (p. 5)
  • “Many parents report using media technology with their children, but this “joint media engagement” drops off markedly for children who are six or older.” The report adds that about one in five [21%*] of parents say that when their children are using a tablet computer, the parent is using the device along with the child “all or most” of the time. (p. 7)


* Update, 6/30/2014: Due  to weighting and computational errors by the firm that fielded the survey, the original report by Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development has been corrected. These data points have been updated to reflect the corrections, which in this case were one percentage point each (originally 78%, 20%, and 20%, respectively).

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