Kids 8- to 18-Years of Age Spend 10.5 Hours on Media | How Much Do Your Kids Watch TV?
Do you know how much TV your kids watch in any given day? What about how much time spent playing video games? Playing on the computer? Listening to music? According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, you might be surprised.
This study was conducted in 2009, so we should note that this is before the iPad or Smartphone were a normal part of our lives. I imagine these numbers are even higher now, but a scary pattern is forming. From 1999 to 2009, the media exposure in a typical day for 8- to 18-year olds increased by over 3 hours to a shocking 10.5 hours in some form of media! What is even more unsettling is that those 10.5 hours are actually obtained in only 7.5 hours, which means kids are getting better at “media multi-tasking”. Watching TV, listening to music, playing on the computer or with video games, ALL at the same time. Basically, if they are awake, they are using some form of media. Is it a wonder that many kids have a hard time focusing on just one task anymore?
Just imagine what that type of media exposure is doing to a young, developing mind.
The study found that TV content is steadily number one when it comes to media use, but kids are starting to consume it differently through DVR, the computer, iPods, or a cell phone. Although live TV is slightly down, total TV-content consumption is close to an hour more than it was in 1999.
Here are some reasons why it is so high, according to the study:
- In 75% of households, TVs are on when no one is watching them.
- More than 70% of kids have TVs in their bedrooms
- 2/3 of households have the TV on during meals
- Almost all homes have the internet.
The study also found that only 1/3 of households have rules regarding how much media kids are allowed to have. This includes any kind of rules on computer usage, time playing games or watching TV.
So why should we, as parents, care? For starters, kids who consume the most media do poorly in school. In this study, 80% of kids said that they use some form of media (computer, watch TV, play video games, etc) while they are doing their homework. All the excess “noise” can distract kids from their learning, which affects their performance. And unfortunately, kids are reading less, which can also make a negative impact on their long-term education.
I’m not an advocate of getting rid of all media, but I don’t think kids need to consume 10.5 hours either. We have rules in our house on how much TV or movies my boys can watch, and it always comes after homework and reading time. My kids aren’t old enough for cell phones yet, but I’m sure that will be a challenge to deal with, too. Right now, the main issue is limiting time on the iPad, but I only allow them to play educational games. Yet, after this study, I’m cautious if that is even enough.
What do you think? Do you have rules on media usage in your house? How much is too much? Do you think this study is accurate?
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