Recent studies by Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI) indicate the total number of TV sets in homes is on the rise, and many of these are winding up in kids’ bedrooms.
SRI’s 1996 Television Ownership Survey found that 48 percent of households with children under the age of 18 own three or more TV sets. That’s more than double the 1981 survey result of 22 percent.
Two separate studies, the Children’s Lifestyles Study and the Home Technology Study, both carried out in 1995, found that just over a third of children under 12 have TVs in their bedrooms. Fifty-three percent of households with teens reported sets in kids’ bedrooms.
The studies identify two factors as influencing whether kids have bedroom TV sets. First, kids are twice as likely to have a set in their room if their household also owns a video game system. Second, the studies suggest an inverse relationship between household education level and TV sets in kids’ rooms: In households where the highest level of education was at least a college degree, kids were about half as likely to have their own TV sets as their counterparts in households with lower levels of education, though this discrepancy was less marked for teens.
Kids also have greater private access to TV-related technology. One-fifth of homes with a child under 12 and one-third of homes with a teen reported a video game system in a child’s bedroom. In addition, about one-fifth of kids have access to cable or a VCR. Perhaps surprisingly, the number of homes in which TV sets and computers are both present in children’s rooms was small only three and five percent for kids under 12 and teens, respectively.
SRI suggests that measuring kids viewing habits poses a real challenge, since so many methodologies rely on parental supervision or assistance, which is just not available when kids are watching TV in the privacy of their rooms.