According to a survey released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, American youths are spending far more time consuming media on a daily basis than just five years ago. Young people now devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to daily media use, or about 53 hours a week according to the findings being discussed on a variety of USENET newsgroups.
According to the study posted on to soc newsgroups, America’s 8- 18-year-olds have increased their consumption of digital media over the past 5 years by one hour and 17 minutes a day. The 7 1/2 hour daily total is up from 6 hours and 21 minutes five years ago.. Total media consumption taking multitasking into account was up from 8 hours 33 minutes.
And when children go to their rooms, media still surrounds them, with 71 percent saying they have a TV in their bedroom and 50 percent saying they have a video game player, the researchers report. Live TV viewing comprises 59%, or 2 hours and 39 minutes a day, of young viewer’s video time with 41%, 1 hour and 50 minutes, coming from time-shifted programming, DVDs, online, or mobile. Other trends: About two-thirds of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, and just under half say the TV is left on, most of the time, in their home, even if no one is watching. “What surprised me the most is the sheer amount of media content coming into their lives each day,” said Kaiser’s Vicky Rideout, who directed the study. “When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s a little overwhelming.” The huge increase since 2004 can be attributed to the transformation of the cellphone into a content delivery device and social networks such as USENET, Facebook and Twitter.
“The increase in media use is driven in large part by ready access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods. Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership among 8-18-year-olds: from 39 to 66 percent for cell phones, and from 18 to 76 percent for iPods and other MP3 players,” read the report.
A few years ago, the same researchers thought that teens and tweens were consuming about as much media as humanly possible in the hours available. But somehow, young people have found a way to pack in even more. The study cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship between media use and grades. However, the survey did find that about half of heavy media users, defined as consuming more than 16 hours of media a day, usually got grades of mostly Cs or lower, compared to less than a quarter of light users, defined as less than three hours of media a day. Black and Hispanic children, who as a group perform poorer in school than whites, spend far more time with media than white kids, consuming an additional 4.5 hours a day on average, for a total of about 13 hours of media exposure.
Study authors didn’t determine whether so much use is either positive or negative overall, but do say the new stats should be useful information for parents, health professionals and policy makers as they make decisions about kids media use and the content they’re receiving. “Anything that occupies this much space in kids’ lives is something we really need to pay attention to,” Richard added. “The bottom line is that all these advances in media technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more time with media,” said foundation Vice President Victoria Rideout, the report’s author. “It’s more important than ever that researchers, policy-makers and parents stay on top of the impact it’s having on their lives.” One form of media teenagers aren’t hooked on? Print newspapers. Most youth surveyed said they spent only 38 minutes a day reading a print publication.