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03.23.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Children flock to Internet; Now almost par with TV

Almost two-thirds of American children between the ages of two and 17 logged onto the Internet during 2002, and the biggest gain - a 205 percent increase- occurred among African-American children, says a new report from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).



The study found that parents play an important role in their children's' use of the Internet, with a majority of parents of children ages two to 17 and children ages six to 17 agreeing that parents have knowledge of and influence over children's online activities.

However, the report, called "Connected to the Future," also shows that these increases have not erased the historical disparities between under-served and more advantaged children regarding Internet access. For example, 66 percent of children from high-income families use the Internet at home, compared to 49 percent of children from middle-income households and only 29 percent of children from low-income homes.

The study also found that digital media use among children ages six to 17 is now approaching parity with television viewing. According to the report, children spend 3.1 hours a day watching television and 2.9 hours a day using digital media such as the Internet, the computer for non-Internet activities and video games. Teenagers actually spend more time each day with digital media (3.5 hours) than watching television (3.1 hours).

"This study shows that the Internet is fast becoming an ubiquitous tool for a growing number of American families," said Robert T. Coonrod, CPB president and CEO. "Kids are using it in unprecedented numbers, and parents believe it is valuable to their children's learning."

The report, underwritten with financial support from the BellSouth Corporation, Educational Testing Service, and Kodak, found that parents play an important role in their children's' use of the Internet, with a majority of parents of children ages two to 17 and children ages six to 17 agreeing that parents have knowledge of and influence over children's online activities. Eighty-six percent of parents perceive of their role as a guide to good Internet content rather than as a watchdog over their children's use.

Among the findings on children's Internet access from any location include:

  • Low-income children's access underwent a 96 percent growth increase, from 28 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2002

  • 58 percent of African-American children now use the Internet from some location, compared to 19 percent in 2000

  • 50 percent of Hispanic children now use the Internet from some location.

However, when the report looked at Internet use at home and school, it reveals disparities in access among children ages two to 17:

  • 49 percent of Caucasian children use the Internet at home, compared to only 29 percent of African-American children, and 33 percent of Hispanic children

  • Despite strong growth in school access from 2000 to 2002 for low-income (20 to 32 percent) and African-American (12 to 31 percent) children, their current school use still significantly lags behind high-income (47 percent) and Caucasian (38 percent) children.

An electronic version of the report is available at www.cpb.org/ed/resources/connected .

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