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Update: More screen time for youth than adults on the job

Update: with affect of screen time limits, statistics on ownership of gadgets, role of online media over Web and cell phones in boosting media consumption

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."

Key findings:

-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 by Cecilia Kang  |  January 20, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
 | Tags: behavior, cell phones, electronic media, grades, screen time, youth  
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Comments


I can't say that any of this surprises me. We are raising a generation of kids who are fat, intellectually lazy, and unmotivated.

Posted by: jackrussell252521 | January 20, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Simple solution for parents quite using the Television and Computers and electronic baby sitters. Limit the time they spend in front of the Television or playing games. Computer time outside of school work should be limited as well. Monitor what your children are doing. Or better yet take the cell phone away. I out right forbid text or talking on the phone during family time. Which is any time we are doing something together from eatting dinner to playing family games. Even better incorporate the two get a Wii and have family time with that. Physical Activity, electronic gaming and family time all rolled up in one.

Posted by: mburton325 | January 20, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Why is listening to music -- even on an iPod -- considered 'screen time'? Even though the iPod has a screen, that screen is integral to the function of the device. It's really just a souped up walkman. Were walkmans/portable cd players included in screen time in previous studies?

Posted by: danielle514 | January 20, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

This research doesn't surprise me, but there is another side.

My 4-year-old son Evan has gained an abundance of knowledge from television and the Internet. Dora the Explorer inspired him to learn Spanish; Dinosaur Train teaches him about the prehistoric world; and The Backyardigans and The Fresh Beat Band instill an appreciation for music and dance. He furthers his appreciation of the themes and knowledge when he visits the shows' Web sites.

Everything he watches reinforces the basic lessons of playing well with others, accepting those who are different and being a good friend. I will admit that so far we are lucky because Evan doesn't want to watch excessive television and only wants to watch "the good stuff." (And will it seem like bragging to say that Evan can already read on his own?)

So, in considering all the research against our kids using technology, we should also recognize the benefits. The key is responsible parenting. The TV is not a babysitter. But it's not the enemy either.

Posted by: BugsyRIP | January 20, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse


In combination the last three points are especially troubling, as they identify a racial academic split ready to propagate through the next generation. I’ll read the study – I’m curious if they controlled for income (is it economic class or race that correlates).

-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

Posted by: john_falck | January 20, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"Why is listening to music -- even on an iPod -- considered 'screen time'? Even though the iPod has a screen, that screen is integral to the function of the device. It's really just a souped up walkman. Were walkmans/portable cd players included in screen time in previous studies?"

Posted by: danielle514 | January 20, 2010 9:47 AM

Good question about earlier portable music players, but I don't think that the screen is the point. Time spent listening to music, particularly wearing headphones, is usually time spent NOT daydreaming or thinking. I know that, although we probably watch too much TV, we usually don't bother with the portable DVD player for even long car rides. My daughter watches the trees, the birds, the clouds, the other cars, and makes up games like counting something specific, or asks a question about something out of the blue. That's how I know we're at least not beyond all hope.

Posted by: MaxH | January 20, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Its called "social engineering". How else are corporation suppose to turn a nation into consumers, instead of producers? Give an America a "gadget" to keep their minds off the prize, dumb down on the farm and out of the way of the corporations. This is how the government was able to steal 700BILLION taxpayer dollars and give it to their corporate bankers and financial institutions, without causing and absolute REVOLUTION. These kids are the future lemmings and puppets of the corporatocracy.

Posted by: demtse | January 20, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

demtse,

We ALREADY are "lemmings and puppets of the corporatocracy."

Posted by: charley42 | January 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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