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Media-Use Study Finds Youths Increasingly Multi-Tasking

By Ann Bradley — March 15, 2005 1 min read
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Young people are spending more time “multi-tasking” with various forms of media, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported last week.

Children and teenagers are using computers, the Internet, and video games without cutting back on the time spent with television, print media, and music, a survey by the foundation shows. In fact, because young people now tend to go online while watching TV, they are packing more media content into their days.

Young People Ages 8 to 18 Report on Television Habits
Television Orientation Household Rules?
63% TV usually on during meals 36% Rules about homework or chores before TV
53 No TV rules 14 Rules about how much TV they can watch
51 TV on most of the time even if no one is watching 13 Rules about when they can watch TV
25 High TV orientation (all of the above) 13 Rules about which shows they can watch

The study, “Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds,” examines the use of various types of media by a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 students in grades 3-12 who completed detailed questionnaires. Some of the students also maintained seven-day media diaries as part of the research.

The study looked at the recreational use of TV, videos, music, video games, computers, movies, and print. Between one-quarter and one-third of those polled said they were using another form of media “most of the time” while watching TV (24 percent), reading (28 percent), listening to music (33 percent), or using a computer (33 percent).

“Multi-tasking is a growing phenomenon in media use, and we don’t know whether it’s good or bad or both,” Drew Altman, the president and chief executive officer of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based foundation, said in a statement.

The total number of hours that students reported devoting to media use each day has remained steady, the study found, at just under 6½ hours. The study is available at www.kff.org.

A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week

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