Children Now Using Electronics Nearly 50 Hours a Week, Study Finds

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A study conducted earlier this year has found that children between the ages of 8 and 18 are staring at an electronic screen, and using electronic media and electronic devices, a stunning 8 to 10 hours a day! That’s the equivalent of a full-time job or better, just using iPods, computers, cell phones, televisions, and other electronic devices!

Explains one such child, 14-year old Francisco Sepulveda, of his intimate relationship with his smart phone, “At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages.”


The study calculated the time spent by taking into account multitasking, such as listening to an iPod while watching television, or texting a friend while also working on the computer.

But even when you don’t count multitasking, and when you count just true straight hours spent using these devices, the study found that, on average, children between the ages of 8 and 18 are using these devices and other media electronics an average of 7 1/2 HOURS A DAY.

Says Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which commissioned the study, “The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time work week. When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it’s affecting them – for good and bad.”

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The researchers attributed the explosive growth in time spent using electronics devices in part to children having a much greater access to cell phones and iPods.

The study also found a correlation between heavy use of cell phones and other electronics, and a decline in academic grades.

“Kids that spend a significant amount of time on video games are not interacting socially in other ways. They’re probably not playing sports, not doing extra-curricular exercises, not going out,” observed Dr. Louis Kraus of Rush University Medical Center.

 

The study also highlights concerns about parents’ ability to actually, you know, parent their kids, when their kids are essentially engaged in a world into which their parents have no access or insight.

“Parents never knew as much as they thought they did about what their kids are doing,” says Professor Donald F. Roberts, of Stanford, a co-author of the study, “but now we’ve created a world where they’re removed from us that much more.”

Adds Victoria Rideout, one of the lead authors of the study, “I don’t think parents should feel totally disempowered. They can still make rules, and it still makes a difference.”

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