January 20, 2010
New Media Use By Children Up By Hours Per Week

A Kaiser Family Foundation study finds cell phones and other devices have increased the number of hours kids spend using entertainment media. Even though conventional TV consumption is down increased internet TV consumption more than makes up for that loss. Even more TV is being consumed.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth, according to a study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7˝ hours.

The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today.  And because of media multitasking, the total amount of media content consumed during that period has increased from 8:33 in 2004 to 10:45 today.

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Foundation about young people’s media use.  It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

Mobile media driving increased consumption.  The increase in media use is driven in large part by ready access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods.  Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership among 8- to 18-year-olds: from 39% to 66% for cell phones, and from 18% to 76% for iPods and other MP3 players.  During this period, cell phones and iPods have become true multi-media devices: in fact, 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).

Friends and relatives complain of kids who are game addicts and who get little accomplished due to their social networking, messaging, and games obsessions.

What I'd like to know: What are the net effects of iPods, Facebook, MySpace, video games, and the like? Are young males less physically violent because they can find an outlet for their aggressiveness in video games? Are kids more ignorant of political and economic news because they spend less time reading newspapers and magazines?

What are the effects of these new forms of media on smarter versus dumber kids? Do smarter kids use the media to learn faster? Or does it pull them away from studies? Do bright kids get more benefit from the new media while dumber kids are more likely to use it to waste more time? I would expect brighter kids to find ways to use it more adaptively.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 January 20 11:12 PM  Comm Tech Society

Mthson said at January 20, 2010 11:50 PM:

It seems like technology must be increasing the distances between people with different levels of interest in knowledge. Many knowledge workers have a couple dozen or more sites in their RSS feed. Can you imagine checking that many sites manually?

Lono said at January 21, 2010 8:28 AM:

I think it is too early to tell what will happen yet - but the trends should be studied closely over the next ten years of that generation.

I have seen several studies that show an inverse relationship between teen violence and videogame consumption - and frankly, common sense dictates that keeping idle hands occupied (and off the streets) pretty much made such a positive coorelation inevitable.

As far as the question as to whether greater media and information availabilty will lead to an even greater gap between bright kids and their less able peers - I think only time will tell.

I know that - due to the ubiquitous availability of internet access for myself over the last ten years - I personally take in as much information in one year as I used to take in in seven years previously. This 600% increase in inforamation consumption has even far eclipsed the 100% to 200% increase I experienced while attending University.

While I likely do suffer somewhat from Information/Media Addiction - which I am genetically prone towards - I have not found such an increase to adversely effect my day to day responsibilities - although it may have distracted me from persuing certain business opportunities in the past.

What I have found, however, is that I can barely converse with many of my peers these days due to the huge gap between our knowledge base on any number of subjects. I just don't have the time to get them up to speed to have a short - but meaningful - conversation.

I am not very surprised at this outcome - and I expect this trend to be increasingly evident in these upcoming generations - as we see - what many futurists and scientists have long predicted - that Humans will soon start to quickly diverge from each other along intellectual and socio-economic lines.

While that may be initially difficult on society - I expect that the wealthy and intellectual elite will come to so utterly dominate the other groups that conflict will be largely subdued between the various factions.

Randall Parker said at January 21, 2010 10:54 PM:


I think you've summed up a major point pretty succinctly:

It seems like technology must be increasing the distances between people with different levels of interest in knowledge.

Yes, absolutely. For me the internet has been like Lono describes. I learn at a much faster rate. Even my quality of books read has improved as I can now more easily find lots of books and reviews of books. I've begun reading more books lately and am enjoying it more because a larger fraction of them turn out to be really good.


I find most people pretty boring and ignorant. I am frustrated with commenters who absolutely insist they are right on some subject even though they haven't tried hard to learn much about it.

The level of ignorance is especially bad when people have ideological and tribal reasons to hold positions. I'm reading a lot about climate research and find whenever I do a post on it ideological warriors show up who know little or nothing about science who think the subject should be approached mainly as a partisan battleground. I'm tempted to delete all climate warming post comments that have no scientific content to them.

Parenthetically, I'm looking for climate science book reading recommendations from people who've read at least a few books on the topic who are in the position to compare.

Lono said at January 22, 2010 7:33 AM:

Mthson and Randall,

Yes - absolutely - I agree completely with both of your comments.

I would alos say - however - that despite the old tribal partisan arguments brought up even here on your site - I do find the quality and level of discourse here to be - in general - a real breath of fresh air when compared to the drudgery of conversing with my average co-worker or fellow citizen.

Thanks for keepin' it classy - Futurepundit!


Mthson said at January 22, 2010 8:17 PM:

Regarding books, I've taken to reading them on my computer when I can. Last I checked, www.ereader.com was the largest e-book site that allows copying of text (to paste in your notes). E-books are also searchable, of course. However, Ereader.com's selection isn't very large compared to Amazon's physical book selection.

The alternatives of which I'm aware for books not on Ereader.com are:
1. Search Google for '[Book name] + torrent,' which sometimes allows one to obtain the book in pdf format. (Use Vuze to download torrents.) (Alternatively, www.torrentz.com is a good meta-search engine of torrent sites.)
2. Maybe some e-reader devices like the Kindle will have an adequate ability to copy quotes, assuming your book is offered for that device.
3. Buy the physical book, cut off the binding, and feed the pages into an automatic document scanner. (I believe you could say this is the brute-force solution.)

As always, thanks for the interesting comments, Randall and Lono :)

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