Kids are consuming media at record levels but, surprisingly, the largest part of their diet is still TV, according to a new study out Wednesday.
In a world jammed with netbooks, iPods, cell phones that double as computers and more, folks between the ages of 8 and 18 spend upward of 4-1/2 hours a day watching television programming, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s new study, “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds.”
That’s up by 38% a day over five years ago.
By comparison, the second largest category, music and audio, accounts for 2 hours and 31 minutes of time a day.
“It really is interesting to see, even with all the new media out there, television continues to dominate kids’ media preferences,” said Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “But, television content continues to be disengaged from the television set. They’re watching a lot of different platforms and a lot of different content.”
Indeed, roughly 59% of the television viewing was done in real-time, on traditional TVs, while the remaining 41% is either time-shifted, downloaded or watched on cell phones or computers, according to the study.
Researchers found that those ages 8 to 18 consumed 7 hours, 38 minutes a day of entertainment media, or almost 53-1/2 hours a week.
Moreover, when multitasking is taken into account, researchers estimate the kids are packing 10 hours, 45 minutes of media into that 7-hour, 38- minute chunk of daily time.
The usage stats were culled from the responses of more than 2,000 people in the age group spread across the country. They were not asked what kind of programs or entertainment they were watching, just that they were.
Researchers found the media exposure was higher with black and Hispanics in the sample, roughly 13 hours a day, when compared to 8 hours, 36 minutes for whites.
When it comes to watching television, black respondents watched 6 hours a day, Hispanics 5 hours, 2 minutes, while whites averaged 3 hours, 36 minutes.
Researchers did find that there was a negative relationship to school grades and increased media usage overall, Rideout said.
Not surprising, children’s parents who put some limits on media use – such as not leaving a TV on during meals or not allowing TVs in kids’ rooms – tend to have lower usage rates than the average kids.
“This is a chance for everybody, whether a parent or a media executive,” Rideout said, “to stop and take a look at the enormous role media play in a kid’s life. It has become such a part of the air we breathe that it can accumulate at rates we don’t notice.”
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