Current research shows an explosion in the amount of time children in the US are spending in front of the TV and other “screens” on a typical day, 7 days a week. While in a 2004 young people, ages 8-18, spent an average of nearly 6.5 hours a day consuming media, in 2009 the level in creased by one hour and 17 minutes per day, with children and teens often using more than one form of media at a time according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Report[i] (not counting texting or talking on cell phones!).
What are children and adolescents doing in front of screens? Multitasking. The researchers, who studied over 2,000 young people across the US, point out that days of simply watching TV without other gadgets coming into play are long gone. Mobile phones and online media have proliferated over the years, with smart phones serving as a content delivery system. The upshot is that young people today have more opportunities to consume media than ever before, packing more experiences into the day—anytime, anywhere-- than we’d have thought possible a mere decade ago. More homes than ever have Internet access; more young people own their own cell phones than ever before.
Which groups of young people consume the most media? Two groups stand out. In terms of age categories, 11-14-year-olds (“tweens”) consume the most. In terms of demographics, Blacks and Hispanics showed higher levels of media use.
What are the implications for parents and educators? What types of conversations should we be having with young people about media (and multi-tasking)? What sorts of messages might they be receiving from video games and music? From TV content and movies? Let us know your thoughts on our social sites or post a comment below.
[i] Rideout, V.J., Foehr, U.G., and Roberts, D.F. (2010) Kaiser Family Foundation’s Report: “Executive Summary: Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18-Year-Olds.” http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/8010.pdf (Accessed September 10, 2012).
Dr. Julie M. Wood is co-author of TechnoTeaching - soon to be published by Harvard Educational Press.
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