The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.
And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.
... The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 to 12 that was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009.
On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them.
“I use it as my alarm clock, because it has an annoying ringtone that doesn’t stop until you turn it off,” Francisco Sepulveda said of his phone. “At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages.”
Francisco’s mother, Janet Sepulveda, bought his phone, a Sidekick LX, a year ago when the computer was not working, to ensure that he had Internet access for school. But schoolwork has not been the issue.“I’d say he uses it about 2 percent for homework and 98 percent for other stuff,” she said.
Continue reading here: New York Times, 20 January 2009
PS: Don't miss the readers' comments here, viz. the parents' side of the battle:
"If you define living as experiencing and interacting with your environment then these gadget lovers are not living. They deafen themselves to the world. They notice little, and experience a tiny fraction of the environment they live in. Their interpersonal relationships are mediated by gadgets and thus superficial. Without their gadgets, life is boring, and simply not worth living. The lives they lead are without any real substance and pathetic."
"Family reunion day last month with 23 members present. The five kids who were old enough to be interested in electronic toys (all girls, ages 9 to 15) huddled together in a corner of the living room with their camera phones and i-Pods and spent most of their party time that way. Socializing, to the extent there was any, consisted of the older girls teaching the 9-year-old (mine) how to operate them."
"As a parent I can report that this is NOT news. All of this stuff DOES tend to reduce a child's ability to pay attention and concentrate, and to prioritize the important (school, anyone?) and the unimportant. Problem is, you can't just take it all away once they have it - they go really nuts. It's like a drug."