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As media devices and appliances have expanded exponentially, so has the amount of time kids devote to them. No shocker there, but the details may surprise you.
According to a just-released national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8 to 18-year-olds devote around seven hours and 38 minutes in a typical a day to using entertainment media (an increase of one hour and 17 minutes from 2004). That's roughly the amount of time most grownups spend at work -- much less if you subtract lunch, dawdling, personal web surfing and iVillage blogging.
When you factor in media multi-tasking, the experts say, kids actually spend an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes of media time per day. That's a multi-tasking increase of two hours and ten minutes from 2004.
More details from the report:
* In the 8 to 18 age group, ownership of cell phones in the past five years has gone from 39 percent to 66 percent. Ownership of MP3 players jumped from 18 percent to 76 percent.
* Young people now spend more time using their cell phones to listen to music, play games, and watch TV than to talk to other people. (That is, using their mouths to talk, not their fingers.)
* Roughly 30 percent of young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV, playing video games or using the computer. Those without any media rules consume nearly three hours more media per day than those suffering under rules of any kind.
* Sixty-four percent of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, 71 percent have a TV in their bedroom and half have a console video game player in their bedrooms. (Most still have beds in their bedrooms.)
* Black and Hispanic children consume nearly four-and-a-half hours more media daily than white children, particularly when it comes to TV. This ethnic media gap is more than double the difference in 2004.
* For the first time in the study's history, the amount of time spent watching regularly scheduled TV declined, by 25 minutes a day.
* Over the past five years, time spent reading books remained steady at about 25 minutes a day, but time with magazines and newspapers dropped by five minutes.
* Young people now spend an average of 120 seconds a day reading magazines or newspapers online.
* Girls spend more time than boys using social networking sites, listening to music, and reading. Boys spend more time playing console video games, computer games, and going to video Web sites like YouTube.
It's clear we've come a long way from the day somewhere in the 1970's when I accompanied my mom to buy my brother his first tape recorder. (Confused kids take note: a tape recorder is to a CD player what a CD player is to an iPod.)
"What kind does he want?" asked the salesman, now probably a retiree.
"Something with a lot of buttons. He likes pressing buttons," my mother said.
But here's the detail that will astound the 8 to 18 crowd: That lunchbox-sized, plastic, five-button tape recorder -- which we used mostly to record ourselves -- kept us perfectly satisfied and entertained for years. Try that with a cell phone.
Do your kids spend too much time consuming media? Chime in below!