Whenever I speak to an audience about the influence of the media on children, I quote from a survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation concerning electronic media. When you add together the amount of time children spend with television, cell phones, iPads, video games, and computers, it essentially becomes a full-time job of more than 53 hours. This is a dramatic increase from over a decade ago.
The findings of the survey of over 2,000 young people ages 8 to 18 found that their digital day lasted more than seven hours. The primary media inputs were television and music. But substantial amounts of time were also spent on the computer and playing video games.
Although time spent with electronic media is increasing, the researchers did find one area that was decreasing: ink. Daily book readership remained somewhat steady, but reading a magazine dropped 20 percent and reading a newspaper dropped nearly 20 percent.
The survey had a few surprises. For example, the greatest consumers of electronic media were African-American and Hispanic kids who spend nearly one-third more time each day with electronics than white kids. And heavy media users aren’t necessarily couch potatoes. They actually find ways to cram more physical exercise into their lives than light users. While that may be true, I still believe that almost all young people spend too much time with electronic media. I would recommend you consider having certain times of the day when your children are required to disconnect from electronic media.
For the last two decades, I have been talking about the media storm that surrounds our children and grandchildren. This survey of our kids’ digital day shows that they are in the midst of a greater storm than we ever imagined. This should concern parents and educators.