A new report released by a technology education firm for families has found that teenagers and tweens (8-year-old to 12-year-old children) spend a large portion of their days using various media platforms such as online music and videos.
Researchers from Common Sense Media conducted a study to find out just how much time teenagers and pre-teenagers allot in their use of different media devices.
They discovered that teens spend around nine hours each day listening to music or watching videos online, while tweens spend six hours each day doing the same things.
Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense, said that he was alarmed by the amount of time these young people spend consuming media daily and how the government seem to care little about the potential impact this trend could have on them.
"Where is the research?" Steyer pointed out. "We're conducting the biggest experiment on our kids – the digital transition – without research."
Researchers have found it difficult to determine how much screen time has increased over the past few years.
The closest research to that of Steyer's group could be the 2010 study carried out by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that 8 to 10-year-olds spent an average of five and a half hours in using media, while 11 to 14-year-olds spent eight hours and 40 minutes.
The Kaiser study also found that children between 15 and 18 years old spent less than eight hours using these forms of media.
For their own report, the Common Sense researchers conducted a survey of 2,600 young people using a different methodology than the one used for the Kaiser study. This makes it difficult to compare the findings of both studies.
Steyer, however, said they were able to find a definite upward trend in their survey, suggesting that media use among young people is becoming increasingly ubiquitous.
The team discovered that teenagers often carry out different tasks while a media platform is active in the background.
Steyer said this represents the emergence of digital natives, which could have far-reaching implications for people who are concerned about children, technology and media.
The amount of time children spend in a day using media may not be alarming to some parents. Even those who try to limit their child's use of media often find it difficult to compete with the appeal of a brightly lit tablet, PC or smartphone.
"I think the sheer volume of media technology that kids are exposed to on a daily basis is mind-boggling," Steyer said.
"It just shows you that these kids live in this massive 24/7 digital media technology world, and it's shaping every aspect of their life. They spend far more time with media technology than any other thing in their life. This is the dominant intermediary in their life."
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