It’s official: digital media is now more popular than sleep — at least when it comes to teenagers and their consumption of online content. According to a new report from nonprofit group Common Sense Media, teenagers now spend a whopping nine hours a day using media (and are averaging just seven hours of sleep). This actually excludes the amount of time teens spend on the Internet for schoolwork, like research projects or homework assignments. Out of these nine hours, nearly seven are spent in front of a screen, so as smartphone, tablet, and laptop popularity grows, so too perhaps will the need for glasses.
In its survey of 2,600 youths between the ages of 8 and 18, Common Sense Media notes that digital media has certainly become increasingly popular in younger generations, where smartphones, tablets, and laptops are all but ubiquitous. “Everything is digital,” Common Sense Media executive director Jim Steyer told the Washington Post. “We are now in the true emergence of digital natives; that has enormous implications for anyone who cares about media, technology, and children.”
Furthermore, the study found that demographic factors including race, class, and gender all played a role in the type and amount of digital media children consumed. For example, while teenage boys spend 56 minutes a day playing video games and 52 minutes on social media, teenage girls spend an average of just seven minutes playing video games and over 90 minutes on social media.
Mobile devices, however, are the medium of choice when it comes to actually accessing this media, accounting for 46 percent of screen time among teenagers. But for tweens (those between the ages of 8 and 12), tablets are actually more popular, with 53 percent of respondents in this age group reporting owning their own device.
Both tweens and teens, however, are most attached to passive consumption of media, engaging in activities like listening to music, watching videos, watching TV, or reading. Slightly less popular are activities like browsing the Web, playing games, or even chatting online. And sadly, least popular is content creation on digital media — only 3 percent of study participants overall said they made digital art, composed music, programmed, or wrote online.
“Our world is changing and kids are spending a lot of time with media — and they are doing it in a variety of ways on many platforms,” Steyer said. So parents, it may be time to learn how to deal with it.