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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Kids and media use, and keeping a media diary

January 20, 2010

A just released national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation studied the media usage of kids ages 8-18. In Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year Olds, more than 2,000 3rd-12th grade students responded to a survey that asked them about their daily habits. Over 700 kids completed seven-day media use diaries.

Some of the findings:
"Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7-1/2 hours."

(To see what the authors counted and didn't count as entertainment media, view the methodology section of the report).

I find these results really depressing. Worse, they've caused me to reflect and realize how my own girls' media usage has crept up over the past few months! What used to be contained to the occasional DVR show has morphed into listening to an iPod, to new games for the Wii and the DS, to using my Kindle as soon as I put it down!

I don't really know how much overall screen time my kids have, but I'm going to find out! The appendix of the Kaiser report includes a sample of a media diary, but I think it's too sophisticated for my needs. I'm going to simply jot down the screen time that's happening this week, without making any major changes to our schedule. I know we're not anywhere near the 7:38 logged by older kids, but I'm interested to see where we are. Care to join me?

If kids and media is a topic of interest to you, be sure to check out our latest webcast, Screen time and literacy. In addition to video of three experts on the topic, we've gathered resources for parents and teachers as well as discussion questions to follow webcast viewing.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase