Shock! American kids are addicted to the Internet

A recently report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation has confirmed an already known fact: American kids are hopelessly addicted to the Internet and other forms of entertainment media. 

Unsurprisingly, the report found that 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day – which adds up to 53 hours a week. 

“The increase in media use is driven in large part by ready access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods. Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership among 8- to 18-year-olds: from 39 to 66 percent for cell phones, and from 18 to 76 percent for iPods and other MP3 players,” read the report.

“During this period, cell phones and iPods have become true multi-media devices: in fact, young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 daily) than they spend talking on them (:33).”

Victoria Rideout, Foundation Vice President and director of the study, explained that various advances in media technologies made it “even easier” for young people to spend more and more time with media. 

“Top online activities include social networking (:22 a day), playing games (:17), and visiting video sites such as YouTube (:15). [In addition], 7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day sending or receiving texts.”

Rideout also noted that only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28 percent) or playing video games (30 percent), and 36 percent say the same about using the computer. 

“[However], when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.”

Finally, Rideout confirmed that heavy media users report getting lower grades, but cautioned that the study could not establish a definite cause and effect relationship between the two.

“About half (47 percent) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23 percent) of light users. 

“These differences may or may not be influenced by their media use patterns. Heavy users are the 21 percent of young people who consume more than 16 hours of media a day, and light users are the 17 percent of young people who consume less than 3 hours of media a day.”