Analyzing the interests and media consumption of American kids

Kids these days have more choices than ever on how to spend their free time, from video games to movies to television to outdoor activities and more. And they have an increasing influence on both personal and family activities and purchases. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how kids are spending their free time, their media choices, and their influence on their activities and those of their families.

Some things never change, as the saying goes. When looking at their favorite things to do after school, kids still prefer to play outside (73%). Right behind that are video games (66%), TV, 65%, and videos (62%). But technology, although at the top of the list, is not the only activity. A majority also prefer to hang out with friends (61%), do arts and crafts (58%), and play with toys (56%). The chart below shows their favorite after-school activities.

Video Games

Yes, kids love video games. This is no surprise. But the types they like vary slightly between boys and girls. Overall, creative types (like Minecraft) are the favorites (49%) – this is also the top genre for girls (44%), while action/adventure games (45% overall) are tops with boys (58%) and third overall for girls (31%). Games played online with others are number 2 overall (38%), and for girls (35%), and come in third for boys (41%). Boys are more likely to prefer war (164 index), shooter (158 index), and sports/extreme sports (148 index) games than kids overall; while girls over index for music/dance (146 index), word (134 index), and role playing/fantasy (120 index) games than kids overall. The chart below shows the types for kids overall and both boys and girls individually.

Movies and Streaming

Kids are influential when it comes to family movie choices – 83% of parents say that their kids have an influence (some or a lot) on the movies the family attends, while 55% of kids prefer to see movies in a theater, with one-quarter going the first weekend it comes out, and another 27% within the first two weeks. In terms of favorite types, animated movies lead the pack (68%), with funny movies (59%) and action or adventure movies at 52%. When it comes to streaming, 42% of parents say their child is influential on selecting streaming services for the family.


Kids are introduced to new music in a number of ways, as we all are. Family is the most influential, with 51% of kids learning that way. Friends (47%) and social media (32%) round out the top 3, and others include radio (24%), TV (19%), and other websites or apps (8%). But what are kids these days listening to? Pop/dance music is the most popular, with nearly 3 in 5 kids listening to that. Songs from movies, plays, and TV are next, at 53%, with rap/hip hop (38%), rock (28%), and country (27%) rounding out the top 5.

This is just a snapshot into the minds of kids aged 6-11. The MRI-Simmons Kids Study looks at media habits, lifestyles, attitudes, product use, and purchase influence of kids. Surveys are also conducted with the parents/guardians of the kids to provide meaningful context to children’s answers. We also survey teens aged 12-17 years, to capture the changing behaviors as youth age. To learn more about our Kids and Teens Studies, contact us today.
Jennifer Olson
Jennifer Olson
Jennifer Olson is the Director of Marketing at MRI-Simmons. She has worked in the world of marketing and media research for over 30 years on both the supplier and vendor sides. Finding insights in data makes her happy, and she's perpetually searching for new data visualization ideas.