For Kids, Consuming Media is a Full-Time Job

By January 20, 2010
For Kids, Consuming Media is a Full-Time Job

Kids between the ages of 8-18 spend 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using entertainment media (computer, video games, television), an increase of more than an hour over five years ago. This averages out to more than 53 hours per week, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, authors of the report. “The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time work week,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.  “When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it’s affecting them – for good and bad.” The amount of daily media time per day has increased an hour and seventeen minutes per day since 2004.

The increase in media consumption is driven by mobile devices like phones and iPods. Mobile phone ownership in this age group has grown from 39 percent to 66 percent in this period, and kids spend more time per day accessing media on their phones (49 minutes per day) than they do talking on them (33 minutes).

Black and Hispanic children spend a lot more time consuming media than white children do. Black children spend almost 6 hours a day watching TV, Hispanic children almost 5 ½. White children on the other hand, spend 3 ½ hours doing this.

While we still haven’t figured out if all this media consumption is necessarily positive or negative – we’ll probably be arguing about this until the Singularity – there is the fact that increased media use among children tends to lead to lower performance in school.

“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 Victoria Rideout, Foundation Vice President and director of the study.  “It’s more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it’s having on their lives.”

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