Making Sense of the Common Sense Census

Jeff Mao, former Senior Director of Outreach at Common Sense Media, provided one of my favorite analogies a few years back. We were talking about how Gaggle and Common Sense Education could work together to draw attention to the need to teach Digital Citizenship and further protect students when they use school- or district-provided technology.

He compared both of our organizations’ work to teaching teenagers how to drive. Digital Citizenship is driver’s education, while products like Gaggle Safety Management are the safety equipment found in cars. In other words, you can have the best driving instructor on the planet, but without adequately inflated tires, seatbelts, rearview mirrors, backup cameras, etc., a young driver still is at risk. Similarly, the most sophisticated cars with the best IIHS safety ratings expose drivers to danger if they haven’t learned the rules of the road.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with Common Sense and folks like Merve Lapus on highly-successful Student Safety Symposiums. During a recent symposium, Merve handed me a great new resource, The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight 2017. The report is part of a series of probability-based surveys documenting media use patterns among children from birth to age 8 in America. The latest survey includes a nationally representative sample of more than 1,400 parents from all regions of the country, from lower- and higher-income families, and representing diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Do yourself a favor and check it out. Here are some highlights:


The Census includes three essays from Dr. Jenny Radesky, Michael H. Levine and Julián Castro who articulate their views on the digital divide within families, mobile media and digital equity.

Charts and Graphs

The 32-page report is full of charts and graphs that make the research easy and quick to read. I could see educators using them in presentations to school boards to further show the value of investing in Digital Citizenship resources and technology to keep students safe.

Key Findings

The Common Sense Census summarizes survey results through ten key findings. While some—at least to me—are more evident than others, the Census brings to light interesting findings such as screen time as it relates to household income and parent education. For instance, on average, kids from lower-income families spend 1:39 more with screen media that kids from higher-income families.

Two other key findings that I found especially interesting delve into parental concerns by race/ethnicity, and introduces the role pediatricians can play in reaching families about the children’s media use.

Read: The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight 2017.

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