Tween/Teen Media Use Up, Think Multitasking During Homework No Problem

A new survey from Common Sense Media, Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, is garnering headlines for a key outcome: teens spend about 9 hours a day using media, not including school and homework. But according to the report’s authors, an even more alarming finding is the differences in children’s media use patterns according to socioeconomic and racial/ethnic background. Children from lower-income homes and black and Hispanic children spend more time with media than white children and children from higher- and middle-income homes. Lower-income teens average over two hours a day more than their counterparts.

"Our world is changing and kids are spending a lot of time with media -- and they are doing it in a variety of ways and on many platforms," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, in a press release.  "The census really sheds light on how different media use is for different kids – from boys to girls, low income to more affluent, and kids from all ethnic backgrounds. There are a lot of ways media use can be educational and beneficial for our kids, from learning apps and web sites to creating content. The media use census provides parents, educators and the media industry with an excellent overview of what kids are doing today and how we can make the most of the media and technology in their lives."

Other key findings

  • Only 3% of tweens and teens media time is spent creating.
  • Parents are more concerned about what their kids are viewing on the media rather then the amount of time spent on it.
  • Watching TV and listening to music are still the preferred uses of media.
  • Many teens multitask with media while doing their homework, and most think this has no effect on the quality of their work.

"As a parent and an educator, there's clearly more work to be done around the issue of multi-tasking," said Steyer. "Nearly two-thirds of teens today tell us they don't think watching TV or texting while doing homework makes any difference to their ability to study and learn, even though there's more and more research to the contrary."

Read the report.

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