Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary
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Kids and Media Use

In its third phase (1st-1999, 2nd-2004), the Kaiser Family Foundation examines the extent and nature of media usage by young people in the "Generation M2" study. In a sense, it tells us what we already know: that media is a powerful influence in the lives of our kids. Yet, this study sheds light on explosive growth of media use (largely due to advances in technologies that deliver it) by today's young people.

Significant findings:

• Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in media use among young people.
    - Today's teens spend 7 hours, 38 minutes per day consuming media (an increase of 1 hour, 17 minutes per day from 2004. This amounts to a full-time job! (Even more when you take into account that the reported time consuming media per day is based upon 7 days a week - not the standard 5 day work week.)
    - When multitasking is accounted for (consuming multiple sources of media at one time), today's youth consume 10 hours, 45 minutes of media content per day! (An increase of about 2 hours, 15 minutes per day from 2004.)

• An explosion in mobile and online media has fueled the increase in media use among young people.
    - The story of media in young people's lives today is primarily a story of technology facilitating increased consumption. The mobile and online media revolutions have arrived in the lives—and the pockets—of American youth.
    - Mobile media:
        • Cellphone ownership among kids increased from about 39% in 2004 to about 66% in 2009.
        • iPod/MP3 device ownership among kids increased from 18% in 2004 to 76% in 2009.
    - Television on new media platforms:
        • Kids have turned increasingly to watching television programming on mobile devices and online via computer.
    - Online media:
        • As new online media forms have increased (think YouTube, Facebook) kids use of these sources has increased.

• Youth who spend more time with media report lower grades and lower levels of personal contentment.
    - Nearly half (47%) of all heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly C's or lower), compared to 23% of light media users. Heavy media users are also more likely to say they get into trouble a lot, are often sad or unhappy, and are often bored.

• Children whose parents make an effort to limit media use—through the media environment they create in the home and the rules they set—spend less time with media than their peers.

• Two groups of young people stand out for their high levels of media consumption: those in the tween and early teen years (11- to 14-year-olds), and Blacks and Hispanics.
    - The jump in media use that occurs when young people hit the 11- to 14-year-old age group is tremendous—an increase of more than three hours a day in time spent with media (total media use), and an increase of four hours a day in total media exposure.
    - Differences in media use in relation to race and ethnicity are even more pronounced, with Hispanic and Black youths averaging about 13 hours of media exposure daily (13:00 for Hispanics and 12:59 for Blacks), compared to just over 81⁄2 hours (8:36) among Whites.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

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