Families Spending More on Home Entertainment than Going Out

Filed under: In The News

Staying home with the kids is not that cheap. Credit: c.r.avery, Flickr

American households are spending more money staying in with their electronic gadgets than going out. In fact, we're spending almost $1,000 per person every year on cable TV, Internet and video games.

If you're stuck indoors with the kids on a snow day, you can appreciate the worth of all those home entertainment devices. So does the U.S. Census Bureau: Its 2010 National Data Book says we're about to break $1,000 per person annually when it comes to all kinds of electronic entertainment at home. The Census numbers say Americans went from spending $784.24 in 2005 to $997.07 this year, more than half of of it on cable TV and home video. The total is expected to hit $1,038.70 in 2010.

Add to that about $1,000 per person a year spent on cell phone expenses, and we're spending more on entertainment at home than we are on gas and on dining out, says The New York Times. One set of parents profiled by The Times say they spent about $5,000 a year keeping their two teenage boys entertained with cell phones, high speed Internet, DirecTV, Netflix and Xbox Live subscriptions.

Research backs it up: It's all because of the kids. Forrester Research's annual survey of technology in American homes found families are big consumers of all kinds of electronic gadgets.

Young families have more of the latest and greatest, including Blu-ray DVD players, digital video recorders and game consoles, according to Forrester's survey of almost 48,000 Americans. But older families have the most electronics overall: Households with older children have on average three cell phones and two computers, and spend more than other groups on phone, TV and Internet services.

And the costs escalate. The Times reports that what looks like a way to save money by entertaining at home adds up in the long term. Households are paying an average of $39 a month for broadband Internet, and that figure has been rising, says a study from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. And the Census figures show spending on video games has quadrupled in the last five years.

Sure, a movie at home is cheaper than $10 per ticket for a family of four -- that's a piece of advice everyone has heard during this recesion. But, as the Times notes, once you add wireless Internet, satellite TV, a DVR and all the other bells and whistles kids want (and the $1,000 figure doesn't even include music and video downloads), it adds up to real money.

Related: Weird and Wild Gadgets of the Future

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