To give us a picture of how kids in the U.S. are spending their recreational time, Stamford, Connecticut-based Just Kid Inc. provided these findings from The Just Kid Inc. Global Kids Study. The study was conducted in 1996 and 1998 via personal in-home interviews in 12 countries around the world. In each country, 400 kids ages seven to 12 and their mothers were interviewed separately, resulting in 800 interviews per country. The sample for the U.S. study, conducted in 1996, was nationally representative. Full results of the study will be released this month.
TV Viewing Patterns
The average amount of time American kids watch TV varies throughout the week. The U.S. TV viewership portion of the study, completed in 1996, found that the average child watches two hours of TV on weekdays and 3.7 hours on weekend days. One can assume that viewing time is lower on weekdays because kids are in school and in general, spend less time at home on a school day. In addition, time spent on homework may also cut into viewing time.
By comparison, weekday numbers in the last year are higher for kids ages six to 11, the closest demo measured by Nielsen Television Index. From December 8, 1997, to November 30, 1998, kids ages six to 11 watched a total of 12.8 hours on weekdays (2.6 hours daily) and 6.5 hours on weekends (3.25 hours daily), according to Nielsen Television Index data provided by Saatchi & Saatchi Media Research.
TV Viewership vs. Attitudes
It is interesting to note that although watching TV was the activity most frequently performed by kids (92% watching at least three days a week), this activity was ranked fifth by kids as ‘one of their favorites.’ Younger kids were significantly more likely to select watching TV as a favorite activity (45%) than older kids (27%).
Maturity of Recreations
Kids today are more interested in recreations one might associate with tweens and teens, and less so with those considered more childlike. Playing with toys, for example, fell near the bottom of the list, with only 22% of all kids describing it as one of their favorites. Additionally, only 13% of older kids (versus 31% of younger children) claimed that playing with toys was a favorite activity. Activities like listening to music were far more popular, with 40% of kids describing it as one of their favorites. This is particularly true for girls (45% vs. 35% for boys), who ranked listening to music as their second most favorite recreational activity.
Kid Movie Viewership
American kids watch a lot of movies. A total of 54% view a movie on a VCR three or more days a week, and 47% see a movie in a theater at least once a month.
More than nine in 10 (92%) households with kids ages seven to 12 have a VCR, and their usage is quite high. The average number of VCRs in these households is 1.3. The vast majority of kids don’t own a VCR-only 8% of moms claim their child has his/her own VCR.
VCR Usage Frequency
A total of 51% of kids in households with a VCR use it three or more days a week. There are no significant differences in usage among gender or age subgroups, although income appears to have an effect. Children from high income households are considerably more likely to use a VCR three or more days each week compared to those in low income households (60% vs. 40%).
Favorite sports among kids ages seven to 12 include swimming/diving (26%), riding a bicycle (23%), baseball (19%), basketball (16%) and soccer (10%). It should be noted that the study was conducted at the end of June, which probably had an impact on these results. Girls were more likely to mention swimming as their favorite, while baseball and soccer skewed towards boys.
Music is hot with kids-especially girls. More than half of all kids (52%) have their own audio equipment. An indication of how important music is to kids is the frequency with which they use their audio equipment. Frequency of usage (three or more days a week) of portable stereos among the sexes is equivalent (52% for each), but 56% of girls in households with radios listen to the radio three or more days a week (vs. 38% of boys). In addition, 47% of girls use a stereo system with a CD player, and 37% of girls use a Walkman three-plus days a week (compared to 38% and 28% respectively for boys).