The Kaiser Family Foundation just released their report Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds:

A national Kaiser Family Foundation survey found children and teens are spending an increasing amount of time using “new media” like computers, the Internet and video games, without cutting back on the time they spend with “old” media like TV, print and music. Instead, because of the amount of time they spend using more than one medium at a time (for example, going online while watching TV), they’re managing to pack increasing amounts of media content into the same amount of time each day.

The Executive Summary describes the influence of console and hand-held gaming:

More than eight in ten (83%) young people have a video game console at home, and a majority (56%) have two or more. About half (49%) have one in their bedroom, and just over half (55%) have a handheld video game player. (Executive Summary, pp. 36)

In light of NEA’s recent Reading at Risk report, I found the following really fascinating:

In a typical day, nearly three out of four (73%) young people report reading for pleasure. On average, 8- to 18-year-olds spend about three-quarters of an hour a day reading (0:43). Interestingly, those young people who spend the most time watching TV (the 20% who watch more than five hours a day) don’t report spending any less time reading than other young people do; and those who spend the most time playing console video games (the 13% who play for more than one hour a day) spend more time reading than those who play fewer video games (0:55 vs. 0:41 for those who don’t play video games at all, and 0:40 for those who play one hour or less). On the other hand, some kids do read less than others. For example, those with TVs in their rooms, those in homes where the TV is left on all the time, and those whose parents don’t have rules about TV watching all tend to spend less time reading than others do. (Executive Summary, pp. 35, emphasis mine)

This isn’t to say that I think people read enough, but I think it does begin to address what seemed like a scapegoat-ish emphasis in the Reading at Risk report that videogames might be a major reason for their findings of a decline in reading.


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