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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

US kids & media: New study

US children's homes are "media saturated," according to a study just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds." That's an "upgrade" from 1999, when Kaiser's first study said young people's homes were "media rich." A typical American child 8-18 is likely to live in a home with 3 TVs, 3 VCRs, 3 CD/tape players, 2 video game consoles, and a computer, found the study, conducted at Stanford University, and "the computer probably has an Internet connection and an instant messaging program." But here's the rub: the media access in a typical child's bedroom. More than two-thirds of 8-to-18-year-olds have a TV in their own rooms, more than half a VCR, and 49% a game console that connects to a TV (83% have a game console in their homes); 31% have a desktop computer, 12% a laptop; 20% are connected to the Net in their rooms, 18% have instant-messaging; 40% have a landline phone in their rooms, 39% a cell phone, and 55% have either or both. As for rules about this media use: "Fewer 8-to-18-year-olds live in a home where an attempt is made to regulate media behavior than live in homes where no such attempt is made."

As for computer time (p. 30), on average, US kids spend more than twice as much time on the computer now than they did in 1999, and the proportion of children using the computer more than an hour a day has gone from 15% to 28% during that time. Chat and email use have remained about the same - instant-messaging, which barely existed in '99, has gone from zero to kids' second most time-consuming computer activity, at 17 minutes a day (after games, at 19 min.). Gender differences aren't great. Girls' top 3 activities are IM (20 min.), Web sites (this includes blogs/online journals - 16 min.), and games (15 min.). Boys' are games (22 min.), IM (14 min.), and Web sites (12 min.). The study covered so much more, including kids' multitasking and household "media norms" (e.g., no TV till homework's done and Web-surfing supervision). The subhead in KFF's press release reads, "Kids Say Parents Don’t Set or Enforce Rules on Media Use." Here's the Associated Press's coverage.

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