10 Findings from a New Youth Media Study

A recent report conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation has some surprising statistics on youth media usage (well, for me anyway). The report which is the 3rd in a series conducted every five years, shows youth media use is still increasing despite experts in the second report (2005) believing that it would not be possible as there was not enough time left in the day.

This is the report overview:

‘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.  The report is based on a survey conducted between October 2008 and May 2009 among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 3rd-12th grade students ages 8-18, including a self-selected subsample of 702 respondents who completed seven-day media use diaries, which were used to calculate multitasking proportions.’

Here are 10 stand-out findings from the report:

  1.  Youth aged 8 – 18 spend more than 7.5hrs a day (equivalent of a work day) using a smart phone, computer, tv or other electronic device – 7 days a week
  2. Less than five years ago the above number was less than 6.5hrs per day
  3. The above times do not include daily use of computer for school work, texting time (1.5hrs) or talking on their cellphone (30mins)
  4. Taking in to account multi-tasking, on average those studied can pack 11hrs of media information in to those 7.5hrs per day! In 2004, multi-tasking brought it up to 8.5hrs.
  5. Youth media consumption has grown far more in the last five years than in the previous five year period: 1999-2004
  6. Contrary to public opinion that media usage displaces exercise, the heaviest media users reported spending a similar amount of time exercising or doing physical activity as the lighter media users of the same age (a particularly positive finding I would say!)
  7. Almost 9 out of 10 users surveyed reported participating in some physical exercise the previous day
  8. Heavy media users report getting slightly lower grades in school than lighter users
  9. Overall most users reported being very content and having lots of friends. But those users that felt less personal contentedness tended to be heavier media users.
  10. 46% of users surveyed reported sending text messages during the day and this averaged out at 118 texts on a typical day

I must be a little out of touch because I find these results to be unbelievable.

Last week I wrote about a Sheffield (UK) school that reported very positive results with the increase of ICT and mobile technology in their curriculum on student behavior. But when I read this report I immediately wondered about the implications on mobile learning – is there room for more media in the already media-filled lives of these youth? Should there be something else more outdoorsy and wholesome filling the other 7.5 hours of their day? It would be a shame not to integrate mobile learning, but what will the long-term effects be on their eyes squinting at little screens all the time? I think once again, the responsibility lies with the parents to inspire kids to get outside, exercise, have fun with others outside of school time and moderate media usage with some simple rules as this report also covers.