Tweens and teens may be spending more time interacting with entertainment media than they do sleeping, a new study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found.
The report, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18-year-olds, found youth 8 to 18-years-old spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using entertainment media. Add in the hours spent media multitasking – using more than one medium at a time – and that number goes up to an astounding 10 hours and 45 minutes a day.
Among the study’s findings:
Electronic Device Ownership Among 8 to 18-Year-Olds Has Skyrocked
In the last five years, cell phone ownership among youth 8 to 18-year-olds has increased from 39% to 66%. Ownership of iPods and MP2 players has increased even more, from
18% to 76%.
Parental Limits Effective When Used
Only about 3 in 10 young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%), playing video games (30%), and using the computer (36%). Those with limits on media use spent nearly 3 hours less per day engaging with it than those without limits.
The TV’s On But Nobody’s Home
About two-thirds (64%) of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, and just under half (45%) say the TV is on “most of the time” in their home, even when no one is watching. Seven in ten youth (71%) have a TV in their bedroom and half (50%) have a console video machine in their room. The study found children in TV-centric homes spend about 90 minutes more each day watching television.
Heavy Media Use Equals Lower Grades
About half (47%) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23%) of light users. (Heavy users are the 21% of young people who consume more than 16 hours of media a day, while light users are the 17% of young people who consume less than 3 hours of media a day.)
TV Viewing Changing
Traditional TV consumption (actually sitting in front of a television) declined by 25 minutes a day between 2004 and 2009 but increased overall when alternative TV consumption like IPods and cell phones is considered.
Reading Levels Out
Kids continue to spend an average of 23 minutes a day ready books however time spent reading magazines and newspapers dropped from 14 minutes to 9 minutes for magazines, and from 6 minutes to 3 minutes for newspapers. Newspaper reading among youth has dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009.
Multitasking Has Become Mainstream
Media multitasking is contributing to the significant amount of media young people consume each day. About 4 in 10 youth in grades 7 to 12 admit to media multitasking “most” of the time. About half of respondents say they use media either “most” (31%) or “some” (25%) of the time when doing their homework.
Gordon Hay is executive director and founder of Venture Academy for Troubled Teens, a residential behaviour treatment program that provides an alternative to boot camps for teens. Venture Academy offers treatment programs in Ontario and BC and serves families from through the US and Canada including those from Alberta, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. For information on teen electronic addiction, visit www.ventureacademy.ca or call (855) 281-5813.
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