Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Media Use By Young Americans Rises Sharply

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) just published Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, the third in a series of "large-scale, nationally representative surveys" about how young people use various forms of media. According to KFF, it is "among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth." The survey reveals that 8-18 year-olds devote more than seven hours a day to various types of entertainment media, and that much of that time is spent using more than one type of media.

This short documentary produced by KFF provides a glimpse of the study's findings.

An article in the New York Times (If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online) reports that the study's authors, "who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further," were "stunned" by the results.

I would encourage anyone with interest in these matters to read the study or the press release themselves. Below, I will paste some of the findings that caught my eye.

Mobile Media Usage
"over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership [of mobile devices] among 8- to 18-year-olds: from 39% to 66% for cell phones, and from 18% to 76% for iPods and other MP3 players."

"...young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 daily) than they spend talking on them (:33)."

Media in the 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 left on 'most of the time' in their home..." "Seven in ten (71%) have a TV in their bedroom."

"The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it's even more than a full-time work week." -Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Effect on 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. These differences may or may not be influenced by their media use patterns."

Types of Media Consumption
"Time spent with every medium other than movies and print increased over the past five years: :47 a day increase for music/audio, :38 for TV content, :27 for computers, and :24 for video games. TV remains the dominant type of media content consumed, at 4:29 a day, followed by music/audio at 2:31, computers at 1:29, video games at 1:13, print at :38, and movies at :25 a day."

"Over the past 5 years, time spent reading books remained steady at about :25 a day, but time with magazines and newspapers dropped (from :14 to :09 for magazines, and from :06 to :03 for newspapers). The proportion of young people who read a newspaper in a typical day dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009. On the other hand, young people now spend an average of :02 a day reading magazines or newspapers online"

"7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day sending or receiving texts. (Time spent texting is not counted as media use in this study.)"

"practically every waking minute -except for time in school - using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device..."

I am sure I'll write more about this as I get deeper into the study, but for now I'll leave you with a quote from the above-mentioned New York Times article:

Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”

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