Kids use media for almost 8 hours a day – Now what?

teen girl with headphones on with laptopThis week the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report detailing just how much media kids are using.

What’s going on?
A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation confirms that media are a constant presence in kids’ environments:

  • Kids spend more time using media than they spend in school: Kids use TV, music, computers, video games, movies and print for a total of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day.
  • Kids have media in their pockets and bedrooms: 66% of kids own a cell phone, 76% own an MP3 player, 71% have a TV in their bedroom, 50% have a gaming system in their bedroom.
  • Kids are media multi-tasking: For more than 25% of the time kids spend using media, they are using two types of media at once (e.g. watching TV and chatting online)

Why should I care?

  • Kids learn from what they see and hear. All media are educational. Some teach accurate, healthful lessons, while others teach misleading and harmful lessons.
  • Kids need time for healthy activities. If media are constantly in use, kids may not have time for the activities that will keep them healthy: eating balanced meals with family, doing homework, being physically active, playing creatively, and, most importantly, sleeping.

What can I do?

  • Create limits and rules around media. The Kaiser report found that kids whose parents had any kind of rules about media used 1/3 less media than those whose homes had no rules at all.
  • Keep media in common areas. Keep dinner time TV-free, leave the computer in the family room and if you don’t have TV in your child’s bedroom yet, keep it that way.
  • Teach active, critical media use. Engage kids in thinking about the media they use, rather than passively consuming it. These skills will stay with them, no matter how media change.
  • Ask questions. If you have questions about media and kids, or want to see what other parents are asking, log on to Ask the Mediatrician.

Children’s Mediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, Michael Rich MD, MPH, was quoted in an article by The New York Times and interviewed on NBC Nightly News about the Kaiser Family Foundation report.

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