Kids’ Media Use Growing Fast

Today’s’ young people ages 8 to 18 spend over 7 and a half hours a day using entertainment media such as televisions, computers, cell phones, and MP3 players.  As reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation, daily media usage among young people has grown by over an hour in the past five years.  Broken down into tighter age groups, 8- to 10-year olds use entertainment media about 5 and a half hours per day, 11- to 14-year-olds have the highest usage at over 8 and a half hours a day, and 15- to 18-year-olds use such media about 8 hours a day. The study found that Black and Hispanic children are especially heavy users of entertainment media.

Among the many noteworthy findings in the Kaiser study:

  • Most young people are under no parental rules as to how much time they can spend using entertainment media.  Just 28% have rules about how much television they can watch, 30% have video game restrictions, and 36% have limits on how much time they can spend using a computer.
  • Nearly two-thirds of young people say the television is on during most meals in their homes, and nearly half say it is on “most of the time,” even if no one is watching it.
  • Some 71% of young people have a television in their bedroom.
  • There has been a significant increase in ownership of mobile media devices among young people.  Today, 76% of 8- to 18-year olds own an MP3 player (61% of 8- to 10-year-olds), and 66% own a cell phone (31% of 8- to 10-year-olds).

If you want to teach your children how to use money wisely, Sociologist Juliet Schor says it’s a mistake to give marketers direct access to your kids via televisions in their bedrooms and no restrictions on their use of entertainment media.  She was one of the first to highlight the trend of parents being decreasingly involved in what media their kids take in and how much.  She blames that trend, in part, for increases in materialism, anxiety, and depression among today’s youth.

We have three kids, the oldest of which is six.  We definitely limit how much time they spend watching TV or using the computer.  Our television is on maybe an average of an hour a day.  It probably helps that it’s an older TV and we do not have cable, which limits the appeal.

If you have kids, what restrictions have you placed on their use of media?


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