Adolescents are spending 6 hours or more with electronic devices
It may come as no surprise that American teenagers spend a lot time using entertainment media, but just how much time they spend might come as a shock.
American teens spend about nine hours a day (more than half the time they are awake), watching TV, videos and movies, playing video games, reading on tablets, listening to music and browsing social media channels, according to a recent report by Common Sense Media. Tweens – those between 8 and 12 years old – spend an average of six hours per day on these activities.
Despite the significant amount of time spent with media, researchers determined not all adolescents use media in the same way. For example, teen boys played video games more per day than girls, and girls spent more time on social media. Watching TV and listening to music were the media activities enjoyed the most and done most often.
“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 news release. “There are a lot of ways media use can be educational and beneficial for our kids, from learning apps and websites to creating content.”
The research was based on a nationally representative survey of 2,658 kids between the ages of 8 and 18 years old conducted in February and March. The report was the first large-scale study to investigate tween and teens’ use of a full range of media.
For more than 15 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents to avoid screen time for children under the age of 2, and limit it to no more than two hours a day for those older than 2. However, the group is currently revising these guidelines.
Experts are hopeful to have the next set of guidelines out in the fall of 2016.
“I have long thought they were unrealistic guidelines,” says Dr. Dorothea Poulos, family medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “Look at our daily lives as adults. The smartphone and laptop have taken the place of the book, radio and television. We do our daily work on screens. Kids do schoolwork on screens and read, relax or exercise while they access their music on a device that is almost certainly not a radio or CD player.”
The Common Sense Media report also found that at least 50 percent of teens often or sometimes watch TV, use social networking, text or listen to music while doing homework.
“I think the better approach for teens and tweens is to first acknowledge the importance of technology in their life and accept it, not demonize it,” says Dr. Poulos. “Then adults should encourage and role model physical activity [healthy living and maintaining a normal weight are very important], and show their children ways to integrate technology into an active life.”
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