Do Your Kids Watch More TV in the Summer?
Summer is officially in full swing which means one crucial thing for parents: school is out. With children underfoot and a typically unavoidable onslaught of “I’m bored” ricocheting throughout the house, popping a movie in and begging for quiet time may be an enticing option for many.
Among Americans with children under 18 at home, over half say their children consume more movies (53%) and television (52%) during the summer. Nearly half say the same for video games (48%) and the Internet (47%), while four in ten (40%) note increased usage of smartphones and nearly one-third (32%) saying their kids use social media more.
However, not all kids are using their summer months to binge on media. Over one quarter of adults say their kids’ consumption shows no change for movies (29%), television (27%), Internet (26%), and social media (26%) during their summer vacations.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,220 adults surveyed online between June 17 and 22, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.
Loosen the reins or hold on tight?
Perhaps it’s easier to envision writing stricter rules when you’re not going to have to enforce them. While a majority of those without kids at home say rules should not be loosened during the summer (62%), those actually dealing with an active brood feel a bit differently. Half (50%) of those with children under 18 at home say they do loosen the reins on media consumption during summer months. Three in ten (30%) say they stick to their guns and keep things consistent, while 20% don’t have any rules for their children’s media consumption to begin with.
Rule changes for summer media consumption do differ by the age of the child.
- Those with children ages 6 and up are more likely to loosen the rules than those with kids 5 or under (53% ages 13-17 & 60% ages 6-12 vs. 38% ages 5 and under).
Whether or not people have kids at home themselves, everyone’s got an opinion on the matter. Among the childless and those without children under age 18 at home, just over one-quarter (27%) say rules should be loosened and 11% say there shouldn’t be any rules to begin with. Women without kids are more likely than their male counterparts to say rules should be loosened (30% vs. 23%, respectively); however, men are more likely to say the rules shouldn’t exist in the first place (15% vs. 7%, respectively).
Are kids more likely to ride a bike or watch someone on TV ride a bike?
Despite majorities of parents citing their children watching more television and movies during the summertime, it’s safe to say some other, non-media-centric, pastimes still rank high on kids’ summer to-do lists. Parents select playing outdoors (75%) and swimming (71%) as among their children’s most enjoyed summer activities. Watching television (54%) ranks third, followed by riding a bike (51%), playing video games (46%), going to the movies (44%), and reading (40%).
Children of all ages appear to gravitate toward playing outdoors and swimming, with these two activities consistently making up the top two favorites but the activities rounding out the top five do differ some by age:
Most kids today have an enormous amount of technology at their disposal. If they don’t currently have it, they’re certainly begging for it. But exactly when are parents willing to provide or allow these devices to their children? It depends on the device, of course.
By 11 years old, over half of kids are gaming away on either a handheld device (57%) or a console device (54%), as reported by those who have a child under 18 in the household. By 14 years old, over half have a TV in their bedroom (57%), are puttering away on a tablet computer (55%), and are singing along to a digital music player (52%). And finally, by 17 years old, over half of kids get their hands on a mobile phone or smartphone (54%). With devices like smartphones and tablets in hand it may come as no surprise that just 35% of kids have an eReader by age 17.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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