Average U.S. household now has 7 screens, report finds

cell phones

The notion of gathering around the living-room TV has been a relic for some time now, but a new report puts numbers to it, pointing out the host of challenges the trend is presenting parents.

According to ReportLinker, the average U.S. household owns 7.3 screens. TV remains the most popular, with 93% of respondents claiming one. Digital devices, are booming, with smartphones now at 79%, laptops at 78% and tablets at 68%. In terms of what’s in a majority of U.S. homes, desktop computers are at 63% and video-game consoles reached 52%.

Cable operators pushing TV Everywhere and mobile content for kids and families, including new apps from Disney, Viacom, Turner and other programmers, should keep the data in mind. One clear takeaway from the study is that children—and their parents—are forming different relationships with traditional TV content than they did less than a generation ago.

There were 670 online respondents in the survey, described by ReportLinker as “representative of the U.S. population, still having children under 15 and having at least one device at home.” Interviews were conducted April 14-17.

The study’s core focus is on the effect of all of these screens on child development and parenting. For many reasons, this remains an elusive area in terms of definitive, actionable research, but it is receiving increasing attention from both scientists and consumers with the increasing penetration of digital media into daily life.

The report showed that TV remains the most popular device overall with 62% of mentions. Apple iPads, Samsung Galaxies and other tablets are the most popular among children 10 and under, with 47% of respondents saying their children use the devices; under 5 years old that number hits 58% of children. “This device has the potential to unseat TV as the favorite of future generations,” the report concluded.

In terms of parental supervision, 83% of parents said they recognize the importance of keeping an eye on the content their children are watching. That group is more likely to have activated the parental supervision on all devices at home (71%).

Among parents who limit children’s access to no more than two hours a day (79%), In the U.S., seven out of 10 say they’ve activated parental-control software on their devices. However, ReportLinker found, nearly half of parents who permit their children to use electronics before falling asleep are more likely not to activate the parental supervision on all their devices, with just 46% reporting having done so.