Digital Activities of Students

Why Teach Digital Citizenship and Literacy?

The safe, responsible, and ethical use of technology does not necessarily happen on its own. Many teachers may believe that their students are vastly more proficient at using digital devices and media than they are. They may be true. Sociologist Eszter Hargittai questioned whether using the term "digital naive" might be better than "digital native." Though your students may be tech savvy, they are not necessarily tech "smart." A powerful digital citizen knows how to harness the power of technology safely, responsibly, and respectfully. ("Online Courses | Common Sense Media." Accessed 11 May. 2017

Common Sense 2015 Census

Common Sense Media conducted a national study on the media activities of young people. The report, The Common Sense Census: Media Use of Teens and Tweens (2015) is based on a nationally representative survey of 2,658 U.S. children ages 8-18 years old.

girl texting on smart phone

Here are the Key Findings:

  1. On any given day, American teenagers (13- to 18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework. Tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) use an average of about six hours’ (5:55) worth of entertainment media daily.
  2. From Gamers to Social Networkers, patterns of use vary widely among young media users.
  3. Boys and girls have very different media preferences and habits.
  4. Despite the variety of new media activities available to them, watching TV and listening to music dominate young people’s media diets.
  5. Tween and teen media consumption is highly mobile.
  6. Even among teens, social media use still lags behind traditional media use. Only 10% of teens choose soical media as their favorite media activity.
  7. Digital screen media are used for many purposes: reading, watching, playing, listening, communicating, and creating. Only 3% of Tweens' and Teens' digital media time is spent on content creation.
  8. There is a large “digital equality gap” in ownership of computers, tablets, and smartphones.
  9. More parents are concerned about the type of media content their children use than how much time they spend using it.
  10. Many teens multitask with media while doing their homework, and most think this has no effect on the quality of their work.
  11. There are substantial differences in the amount of time young people spend with media, based on family income, parent education, and race/ethnicity. Teens from lower-income families spend a average of 2:45 more with media per day than teens from higher-income families.
group lined up against wall

Conclusions from this Study

  1. First is the vast diversity of ways young people interact with media—the remarkable variety in their preferences and patterns of use.
  2. But our second overarching conclusion is that underneath all this diversity, tweens and teens today place an enduring value on two media activities in particular: watching TV and listening to music.
  3. A third conclusion we reach from our exploration of these data is that young people’s engagement with media still consists primarily of consumption rather than creation.
  4. Fourth, the socioeconomic and racial/ethnic differences in children’s media use patterns are inescapable and concerning.
  5. And finally, although it almost goes without saying, we are struck anew by the ubiquity of entertainment media in young people’s lives.

In sum, media are an enormous presence in young people’s lives, a huge claim on their time and attention, and an element of their lives that is well worth our continued attention.

Common Sense Census Infographic

"Online Courses | Common Sense Media." Accessed 11 May. 2017.

Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens. 2015

To see the complete report, visit

Source: Common Sense Media (2015). Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens. This infographic is based on a nationally representative survey of 2,658 8- to 18-year-olds.

The survey was conducted by GfK research company, using their probability-based online KnowledgePanel ©. The survey was offered in English or Spanish and was fielded from February 6–March 9, 2015. Parental consent was obtained for all respondents. | © 2015 Common Sense Media. All rights reserved.