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Children spend considerable time with media and multiple forms of media

In two studies, one released in 2006 and the other in 2005, Dr. Donald Roberts and colleagues and Victoria Rideout and colleagues investigate media in the lives of children 6 months to 6 years of age, as well as in the lives of 8 to 18 year olds. These studies were conducted in association with the Kaiser Family Foundation and involved various research techniques. The first study of children 6 months to 6 years old involved both a nationally-representative telephone survey of over a thousand parents, as well as a series of small focus groups with parents in four different cities. The second study of 8 to 18 year olds involved having a national sample of over 2000 youth complete an anonymous written questionnaire, as well as having nearly 700 youth complete a detailed 7-day diary of their media use. Both studies took place during the school year and measured recreational (non-school) use of media, including TV and videos, music, video games, computers, movies, and print. A few of the key findings highlighted in these reports include:

· Young people today experience a substantial amount of electronic media—Children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years spend an average of 1.5 hours with electronic media on a daily basis, whereas children between the ages of 8 and 18 years spend an average of nearly 6.5 hours a day with electronic media.

· Since 1999, there has been very little change in the amount of time 8 to 18 year olds spend using media—This trend may indicate that young people have reached a limit with regards to how much time they can devote on any given day to media.

· 8 to 18 year old children are packing more media into the same amount of time—When young people use media, about a quarter of the time they are using more than one medium at a time (e.g., reading and watching TV).

· Children’s homes are filled with media—Nearly one third of children from 6 months to 6 years of age live in households where the TV is on all or most of the time.

· Television and music remain the dominant media to which children are exposed—8 to 18 year olds spend an average of 3 hours a day watching TV and about 1.75 hours a day listening to music.

· Access to and use of computers and the Internet has increased dramatically since the last surveys were conducted—Since 1999, 13% more 8 to 18 year olds have a computer at home (for a total of 86%); an additional 27% have Internet access (for a total of 74%); and 17% more spend over an hour online each day (for a total of 22%).

· There are some important demographic differences with regards to the amount of time children and youth spend with different types of media—Children whose parents have lower incomes or less formal education, for example, tend to watch more TV and play more video games than children whose parents have higher incomes and more formal education.

· Parents play a critical role in determining children’s exposure to media—Children who grow up in households where TV is more prominent, for example, spend more time watching TV than those children who grow up in households where TV is less prominent.

Roberts, D. F., Foehr, U., & Rideout, V. Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005. Rideout, V. and E. Hamel. The Media Family: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Their Parents. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2006.

C&NN Publications

As part of our ongoing efforts to build the movement, the Children & Nature Network has published these resources for leaders, organizers, and participants at the local, national, and international levels:

2010 C&NN Report
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Children and Nature 2009: A Report on the Movement to Reconnect Children to the Natural World
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C&NN Community Action Guide: Building the Children & Nature Movement from the Ground Up
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