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TV Viewing Among Kids at an Eight-Year High

2 minute read | October 2009

Patricia McDonough, SVP Insights, Analysis and Policy, The Nielsen Company

American children aged 2-11 are watching more and more television than they have in years. New findings from The Nielsen Company show kids aged 2-5 now spend more than 32 hours a week on average in front of a TV screen. The older segment of that group (ages 6-11) spend a little less time, about 28 hours per week watching TV, due in part that they are more likely to be attending school for longer hours.

Average Weekly TV And Peripheral Consumption
Among All Kids 2-5
Total TV DVR DVD VCR Game Console
Over 32 hrs 24hrs 51mins 1hr 29mins 4hrs 33mins 45mins 1hr 12mins
Among All Kids 6-11
Total TV DVR DVD VCR Game Console
Over 28 hrs 22hrs 9mins 59mins 2hrs 28mins 18mins 2hrs 23mins

This trend of increased viewing among children mirrors the overall increase in media consumption we’ve been tracking over the last two years across TV, Internet, Games and Mobile phones. And much like their older family members, the majority of viewing for these kids is still done watching live TV.

Very Early Adopters

While 97% of kids’ viewing is through live TV, younger kids spend more time than the older group viewing via DVR, DVD and, to a lesser extent, VCR. Four percent of kids aged 2-5 watch via those devices on average across total day compared to 2.3% for those aged 6-11. Their considerable use of these devices at a young age points to them being able to adopt new devices comfortably as they grow up.

One more thing younger kids do more than those age 6-11 is watch more commercials. Young kids also watch commercials in playback mode more than older kids and adults, as well as watch their favorite shows over and over and over on DVD, VOD and DVR.


Older kids may not use the DVR, DVD and VCR as much as the very young, but they spend twice as much time playing video games — 2 hours 23 minutes a week compared to 1 hour 12 minutes for those 2-5. Internet usage among older kids is also significantly higher as nearly half of kids 6-11 spent time on the Internet in August versus 20% of kids 2-5.

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