A Comparative Time-Diary Analysis of UK and US Children’s Screen Time and Device Use

Killian Mullan*, Sandra L. Hofferth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the results of a comparative analysis of the time school-age children 8-17 years in the UK and the US spent using devices such as smartphones and tablets, and their time in screen-based activities such as watching TV and playing videogames in 2014-15. The paper draws on innovative instruments measuring children’s time using technology and engaging with screens in these two countries. We find that in both, children’s time using devices overlaps with time in screen-based activities, non-screen leisure, and non-leisure activities. Children in the UK spend more time using devices than children in the US, but family size and the availability of an internet connection at home largely explain major cross-national differences. Children in the US spend less time using computers than children in the UK, and, on non-school days, more time watching TV and playing videogames. These differences remain significant after controlling for a range of child, parent and family-level characteristics. Divergent cross-national patterns for children’s time using relatively new devices and their time in more established screen-based activities are linked to differences in family composition and to differential access.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalChild Indicators Research
Early online date2 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

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Funding: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant number R01-HD053654); National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant number R24-HD041041)


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