July 28, 2016 06:00 ET

Rather Than Creating a Divide, Technology Gives Families More Opportunities to Connect

Half (51%) of American Families With Children Under 12 Say They Consume Content Together on a Shared Platform in the Same Room

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - July 28, 2016) - Contrary to popular belief that technology has a negative impact on family relationships, new research from Ipsos Connect reveals that technology has created more opportunities for families to consume content together. The study found that parents and their children watch video-on-demand, use apps, stream music and go to the movies together more often than they have in prior years. This finding comes from the eighth wave of LMX Family, a syndicated study that tracks media and technology consumption of American families with children under the age of 12.

When thinking about media time with their family, a third (32%) of families say they consume different media in the same room -- but half (51%) still consume the same media in the same room. Only one in eight (13%) consume different media in all different rooms.

The study also explored what type of media families consume together. Parents and children are increasingly watching video-on-demand content (62%); however, this appears to be at the expense of DVR, which has decreased to 43%. Eighty-four percent of parents are using apps with their children, a figure that has grown steadily over the years. Families are also streaming music (52%) together, while traditional platforms are either flat or declining.

"Much has been written about technology's negative impact on family relationships," said Janet Oak, Senior Vice President of Ipsos Connect and head of its Millennials, Kids & Family Center of Excellence. "In fact, some believe that children's absorption in technology limits their availability to communicate with parents. At the same time, parents are equally guilty of being wrapped up in their own technology. But our research shows that technology is actually providing more opportunities for families to participate together in joint content consumption on shared platforms."

Binge watching has also increased year over year, with nine in ten (91%) parents claiming to do so with their children. The biggest incidences are seen among parents with kids aged 6-12, where half of those who binge viewed (49%) watch four or more episodes in one sitting.

While one would think this may come at the expense of movie-going, streaming appears to have driven interest. The study found that the biggest increase in seeing a movie in a theater was among those who went 11 or more times per year. In 2016, a quarter (25%) saw 11 or more movies in a theater, compared to one sixth (13%) in 2015.

What has decreased, however, is the amount of time parents spend playing video games with their children. Two thirds (62%) of parents indicated playing video games with their kids, down from 64% one year ago. That said, future plans to purchase video game consoles are strong, and interest in purchasing new video games when they are first released has also risen, primarily in retail stores.

The study also explored the influence children have on the content they consume, finding that many decisions are made collaboratively. Children are most likely to influence the content their parents choose when they go to the movies (60%), play video games (53%) and watch video streamed to the TV (47%).

Despite the prevalence of so much technology, spending time with their favorite people and playing with toys are still among the top three of kids' most cherished activities.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Connect survey conducted in February 2016. For this survey, a sample of 3,283 interviews were conducted among U.S. families with children 0-12 and with children themselves aged 6-12. Quotas were set to balance the sample on key demographics to ensure that the sample composition was representative of the U.S. population.

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Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Janet Oak
    SVP, Millenial, Kids & Family Center of Excellence
    Ipsos Connect
    Tel: (646) 313-7693