Kids are ravenous for media


The Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest report on 8-18 media consumption habits find that they are using it for entertainment more than ever – an average 7 hours 38 minutes daily, and thanks to their ability to multitask, they are being typically being exposed to 10 hours and 45 minutes of media in one form or another. The heaviest users report mediocre to bad grades at school.

The 7 1/2 hour daily total is up from 6 hours and 21 minutes five years ago and translates to over 53 hours weekly. Total media consumption taking multitasking into account is up from 8 hours 33 minutes.

Television type entertainment, accessed one way or another, is the lead category, consuming almost four and a half hours, up about three-quarters of an hour over both the 2004 and 1999 surveys.

Regularly scheduled television viewing actually declined by 25 minutes over the last five years, according to Kaiser, but overall viewing has gone up thanks to online and mobile video consumption. Much viewing is now time-shifted by this group.

The music/audio category, which includes broadcast radio, is next at two and a half hours, and it too is up almost three quarters of an hour over both of the last two surveys.

Computer and video game use is up tremendously, while print and movies seen in a theater are essentially flat.

Of the current 10:45 spent with the media, 29% involves more than one at a time – for example, reading a magazine or playing a hand-held video game while at the same time listening to an MP3 or the radio.

Kaiser compared media use to grade performance. 51% of the heavy users, who log an astonishing 16 hours a day or more with the media, get As and Bs, while 47% pull Cs or lower. That is significantly poorer than moderate 3-16 hour media users (65% good, 31% mediocre/bad) and light users with less than three hours of consumption (66% good to 23% mediocre).

Parents who monitor media use and establish ground rules cut consumption by an average of three hours daily, but only about 30% of kids report being on a parentally-set media diet.

“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.”

See the chart below for Kaiser’s kid media consumption trends for the last 10 years.

Medium 2009 2004 1999
Television 4:29 3:51 3:47
Music/audio 2:31 1:44 1:48
Computer 1:29 1:02 0:27
Video games 1:13 0:49 0:26
Print 0:38 0:43 0:43
Movies 0:25 0:25 0:18
Total media used 10:45 8:33 7:29
Multitask percentage 29% 26% 16%
Total media time 7:38 6:21 6:19

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

RBR-TVBR observation: Watch out – if the media can be tied to a negative, in this case grades, it creates a strong temptation for government intervention. However, in this case it would seem there is very little the government or the media can do to correct the problem, other than to encourage kids to crack a book and go outside and exercise. Parents have to be the front line for a real fix to this problem.