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US Kids and Digital 2018

What Matters and What Doesn’t for These Digital Natives

About This Report
Mostly lacking smartphones and largely excluded from social networking, kids (i.e., those younger than teens) still manage to rack up a lot of screen time in their distinctive digital lives.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Yes, kids are digital natives, but of a peculiar sort. Most lack smartphones, and few use social media. Yet, digital usage is highly important to them—so much so that the amount of time they spend using screens is a focal point of parental worry.

Do kids have smartphones?

Mostly not. We estimate that just more than one in 10 kids ages 11 and younger have smartphones of their own. Many parents see the harms of a smartphone outweighing the benefits for kids.

Do kids use online social networks like Facebook and Snapchat?

Again, mostly not, with our estimates identifying barely one in 10 children ages 11 and younger as users. Even among those who are internet users, fewer than one in five use social networks.

Are kids watching lots of digital video?

This is a digital strong point for kids. Among kids who are internet users, three-quarters are digital video viewers, and YouTube has a big presence among them. This doesn’t mean kids shun traditional TV, and our estimate shows the 11 and younger cohort averaging more than 2 hours a day with it.

Is kids’ screen time still a fraught issue for parents?

It sure is. Multiple surveys find parents feeling their kids spend too much time with screens, as in one survey where three-quarters of parents declared their kids are more addicted to digital devices than to candy. But it’s hard to push back against such usage, with another survey showing digital activity is kids’ favorite form of play.

Any new technologies in the mix for kids?

Smart speakers have started catching on, in part because some parents view them as a benign alternative to screen time. Voice technology is a natural for kids who can’t yet read and write.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report examines the distinctive patterns of digital usage by kids—digital natives who generally lack smartphones and are shut out of social media, but who nonetheless indulge in copious amounts of screen time.

KEY STAT: Digital video has a large audience among kids, and YouTube is a key part of that—despite instances of child-unfriendly content that they sometimes encounter on the platform.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

5expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Digital Natives, But …
  3. The Big Things Little Kids Don’t Use
  4. An Avid Audience for Video
  1. The Screen Time Issue Won’t Go Away
  2. A Natural Audience for Smart Speakers
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Melissa DeCesare
Edison Research
Vice President
Interviewed November 9, 2018
Joe Gagliese
Viral Nation
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed November 16, 2018
Dr. Michael Rich
Boston Children's Hospital
Director, Center on Media and Child Health
Interviewed November 9, 2018
Mindy Stockfield
Scholastic Trade Publishing
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Interviewed November 16, 2018
Allison O'Keefe Wright
Open Mind Strategy
Executive Vice President, Managing Director, Research and Strategy
Interviewed November 16, 2018


Mark Dolliver


Chris Bendtsen
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting
Andrea Szasz
Forecasting Analyst
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