Half of Gen Alpha Is Streaming Video Daily, Including Those Under Age 4

And social media grows in importance the more Alphas age up
By Amy He
March 11, 2024 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Roughly half of parents of Gen Alpha children (51%) said their youngest child streams video content at least once a day, with reading books and playing video games trailing further behind (40% and 37%, respectively).

  • Older Alphas are forming their social media habits now: 65% of those ages 8-10 are spending up to 4 hours a day on social media, which is similar to what younger Gen Zs report doing.

  • While the digitally native Alphas are still predominantly interested in spending their time outdoors, the transition to spending a significantly more amount of time with screens will happen shockingly fast, with implications for tech companies, regulators and brands.

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Data file (Parents of children under age 18)
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Download our latest Gen Alpha report to learn more about the youngest generation’s media and entertainment habits.

Gen Z merely adopted screen time. Gen Alpha was born into it, molded by it. Streaming video, playing video games or scrolling on social media is as natural to Alphas as breathing.

New Morning Consult research on the generation — born 2013 and onwards — shows that digital activities make up the a big part of their daily routines, illustrated by the 51% of Gen Alpha parents who said their Alpha child streams content on a video service at least once a day, or the 54% who said they spend up to four hours on social media daily.

Because device ownership among Gen Alpha kids is high, consuming content and partaking in entertainment digitally is part and parcel to how many parents keep their children occupied, as working Americans are busier than they’ve ever been. This will undoubtedly be a major source of discovery as the youngest generation begins to learn about their likes and dislikes, but it will come with sensitive territory for companies to navigate.

Streaming video is the norm for Gen Alpha kids

A plurality of Gen Alpha parents say that their youngest Gen Alpha child watches content on a video streaming service, followed by reading books and playing video games.

Half of Gen Alpha Kids Stream Video Content Daily

Share of Gen Alpha parents who said their youngest child did the following at least once a day:
Morning Consult Logo
Survey conducted Jan. 3-18, 2024, among a representative sample of 2,007 parents with children under the age of 11, with an unweighted margin or error of +/-2 percentage points.

Our research groups children into ages 0-4, 5-7 and 8-10, and some media and entertainment related activities vary a lot by age group, given the legal requirements or complexity of the activity (such as using social media or playing video games). But others are more universal among the entire cohort, likely because there aren’t age restrictions to those activities, or they’re ones that parents can let their kids do independently, such as streaming video or listening to audio.

Among the platforms parents are most likely to say their kids use, YouTube, Disney+ and Netflix top the list, same as they did last year. YouTube remains a powerhouse of kid’s content, with some streamers ceding their content to the site in hopes of wider reach. And streaming services themselves have been investing heavily in building out their library of children’s content; a Disney executive told the Wall Street Journal that families with children churn slower than those without young ones.

All that said, these mostly indoor pastimes make up a minority of what parents say their children are interested in doing: 36% said their Alphas want to spend their time indoors having screen time, compared with 55% of those who said the same about the outdoors. However, that gap starts to narrow as the kids age up, with the biggest change happening when children age out of the 5-7 group and into the 8-10 one.

Alpha’s social media habits are beginning to solidify

Though social media doesn’t make the top three for the entire Gen Alpha group, it rises in importance for Alphas ages 8-10, right behind streaming video and playing video games. 

Drilling down further, a majority of older Gen Alphas (65%) are spending up to 4 hours a day on social media — a higher share than younger Gen Zers who are doing the same (56%). Gen Z are, of course, are significantly more likely to spend more than 4 hours a day on social, but at least at the shallow end of the pool, older Gen Alphas are already catching up to Gen Z. 

Roughly 3 in 5 Gen Alphas Spend Up to Four Hours A Day on Social

Shares of Gen Zers or Gen Alpha parents on how much time they or their youngest child spend on social media a day:
Morning Consult Logo
Surveys conducted Oct. 16-29, 2023, among a representative sample of 1,002 Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 26, and Jan. 3-18, 2024, among a representative sample of 2,007 parents with children under the age of 11. The first survey has an unweighted margin or error of +/-3 percentage points, while the second survey has an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

While social media platforms have a minimum age of 13 and the oldest Gen Alpha is just turning 11, it’s widely documented that kids will lie about their age to gain access to platforms, a problem that became the subject of a lawsuit 33 U.S. states filed against Meta late last year. They cited evidence that the tech giant knows about and routinely ignores reports about underage users. In 2021, Instagram drew ire after it was reported that it would build a version of its app just for children under the age of 13, which was then quickly scrapped.

Beyond children’s role in falsifying ages to get access to various platforms, some parents also play a big part in their young ones’ participation on social media. The rise of the “kidfluencer” means that even if the children are not the ones posting directly or engaging meaningfully with the content, they are still very much involved on the platforms in a secondary manner. 

The war for Gen Alpha’s attention picks up

For now, Gen Alpha’s time spent consuming digital media is lower than it is for other generations just by the nature of how young they are, but as we’ve seen with Gen Z, this will begin increasing dramatically as they get older.  

Our previous research on Gen Alpha found that the generation is already often involved in household purchasing decisions, and that the young children are often getting ideas about new products and brands from the likes of haul videos and unboxing videos. Marketing to children is an extremely sensitive subject, but whether or not brands are actively doing so, young children are still being advertised to in some way, shape or form.

But as conversations around the negative impacts of media overconsumption continue, many industries will have to navigate a sensitive environment in which children’s digital privacy and mental health takes center stage. 

Download our latest Gen Alpha report to learn more about the youngest generation’s media and entertainment habits.

A headshot photograph of Amy He
Amy He
Head of Industry Analysis

Amy He leads Industry Analysis at Morning Consult. Prior to joining Morning Consult, Amy served as the executive editor at eMarketer, and was a China reporter for many years. She graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and East Asian studies. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].

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