More American kids recognize the Simpsons and Joe Camel than can name the Vice President of the United States, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center survey. The annual University of Pennsylvania study of 1,269 parents with two- to 17-year-olds and 303 of their children ages 10 to 17 (conducted April 20 to May 18) came up with some other interesting tidbits about the viewing habits of American kids.
About 14% of parents in the study have a positive opinion of what is on TV for kids, whereas the kids feel more optimistic about their tube options: 24.5% liked what TV offered. The number of kids shows has increased 12% since last year’s survey, though violence in kids programming is still a concern. Twenty-eight percent of kids shows contained four or more acts of violence, and 75% of those shows did not carry the FV (Fantasy Violence) content rating for children’s programs. Parents are more worried about the Internet than last year, with 19.8% naming the Internet as the media influence they are most concerned about, compared to 12.9% last year.
Kids are technically well-equipped in the U.S., with 68.2% having computers, 41% with on-line connections, 67% with video game equipment, and a whopping 97.8% surveyed with VCRs. Forty-eight percent have TVs in their own bedrooms. There are 2.75 television sets in the average home.
Parents aren’t quite in tune with their kids’ TV-viewing habits, saying children average 3.25 hours a day in front of the tube. In fact, offspring are more likely to be in a TV-trance for 4.35 hours a day, if you include time spent with video or computer games.
The survey gave kids programming a healthier grade this year, categorizing 25% of shows with no enriching content, compared to 46% last year. Only 6% of children’s programs are available during prime time, when kids are most likely to be watching.
There has been a sizable drop in local programming, with 27% of local educational programs reported to the FCC in 1997 and 1998 no longer on the air. Only 65 locally produced shows were aired from 1,200 local broadcast stations. Kids with cable can surf 29 different channels, airing 1,324 kids shows (279 unique titles) in one week. This year, basic cable channels aired 55% of children’s programs, compared to 50% last year. Three-quarters of children’s programs are made for
five-to 11-year-olds, up from two-thirds previous years.