Update: More screen time for youth than adults on the job
Youth are spending more time with nearly every form of media than ever, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. They spend more hours on the computer, in front of television, playing video games, texting and listening to music than an adult spends full-time at work.
The only media young people aren’t soaking up, the study says, are newspapers, magazines and other print publications.
Youth spend more than 7 1/2 hours a day using electronic media, or more than 53 hours a week, the 10-year study says. "And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours."
Affirming parents’ fears, the study showed those habits ripple throughout a youth’s life. Those who were big media consumers were more likely than kids and teens who are only seldom in front of a screen to earn average or poor grades in school. Those who use more electronic media get in more trouble, and say they are often sad.
But the effort to reduce screen time pays off. Parents who impose limits have kids who consume less media.
"For example, kids whose parents don't put a TV in the bedroom, don't leave the TV on during meals or in the background when no one is watching," according to the report.
The Kaiser report is extremely granular and rich in details about the 2,000 youth between ages 8 and 18 who researchers studied over the last decade.
“Understanding the role of media in young people’s lives is essential for those concerned about promoting the healthy development of children and adolescents,” the report’s author wrote in the introduction. The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing the influence of media over youth.
What accounts for this move to screen living? An explosion of mobile and online media, facilitated by broadband and smart phones, in part. The last thing youth do when they fall asleep is send a text or check a social networking applicaiton on their phone, which they then tuck under their pillows, the authors wrote. Television shows are available at any time, recorded on DVRs and through a few clicks online.
The report showed that 20 percent of media consumption is now done over cell phones and about one hour a day of music and television is now consumed through digital forms like through iPods and sites like Hulu.
And youth own more gadgets and computers than ever:
-In 2009, 76 percent of youth owned an iPod or MP3 player, compared to 18 percent in 1999
-Nearly seven out of ten youth owned a cell phone in 2009, compared to four in ten a decade earlier
-The percentage of youth with laptops more than doubled to 29 percent
Five years ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation's finding on youth and media showed children were breaking records of "screen time" and multi-tasking at the same time -- often using more than one form of media at a time. In other words, 29 percent of youth studied were surfing the Web on their computers while text messaging and watching television.
"At the point, it seemed that young people's lives were filed to the bursting point with media," the authors wrote. "Today, however, those levels of use have been shattered."
-Children ages 8 to 18 are now spending more than 53 hours a week (7:38 hours/day) using entertainment media. Ten years ago, that figure was 43 hours a week.
-Television still dominates among young people, followed by music, computers and video games. TV watched online and over phones has contributed to television viewing.
-Kids spend 38 minutes a day reading a print publication, compared to 43 minutes a day 10 years ago.
-Nearly seven in 10 youth have a cell phone, compared to four in 10 a decade ago. Those kids are using mobile phones for music, videos and other entertainment more than for talking.
-When parents want to restrict or reduce media use, they can. But few parents enforce the rules they set.
-Nearly half of all heavy users of media platforms have C grades or lower, compared to 23 percent of light users.
-The biggest users of media are black and Hispanic youth in their early teen years
photo credit: PSFK
by Cecilia Kang
January 20, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
| Tags: behavior, cell phones, electronic media, grades, screen time, youth
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