This was the most read post this year although I think it has a lot more to do with the inclusion of an obscure Monty Python character – Mr. Creosote – than it does the subject matter – a study on how young people are spending their time with media. I see him as a referring term in the analytics and I just know people are so upset when they get a rant on digital media and A.D.D. instead of a gross-out session. Then again, maybe what’s going on with peoples’ brains qualifies…
I’m stretching the whole “Friday Foodie Fun” thing this week since in all candor this post has very little to do with food. It does, however, have a lot to do with consumption. Actually, more like over-eating – Mr. Creosote is alive and well and living in digital media.
Over the past five years, young people have increased the amount of time they spend consuming media by an hour and seventeen minutes daily, from 6:21 to 7:38, almost the amount of time most adults spend at work each day, except that young people use media seven days a week instead of five.
And, given the amount of time they spend using more than one medium at a time, today’s youth pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those daily 7 1/2 hours, an increase of almost 2 1/4 hours of media exposure per day over the past five years.
The last past is what really got to me. Our kids don’t consume media the way we did and I don’t just mean via different platforms. They multi-task. They overcome the space/time continuum! They watch TV, surf the web, and (hopefully) do their homework all at the same time. Does anyone wonder why there’s an A.D.D. epidemic? They’re all training their brains NOT to spend a lot of time on any one thing. They have a lot available to put on their plates and they’re gorging themselves.
While I take almost every piece of research with a grain of salt, there were a couple of other things I noticed. The kids who were classified as heavy users (those who consume more than 16 hours of media content in a typical day- 21% of kids 8- to 18 ) reported lower grades and a 50% higher percentage of them said they were often sad or unhappy. No, I don’t blame their higher media consumption – I think that’s a result, not a cause, of their unhappiness. The grade thing, however, might be rooted in there.
Great content should be like great food. It should be savored, not crammed into our mouths. Maybe my brain is wired very differently from today’s teenager but I enjoy losing myself in a great book or blog or program and try to give it my full attention. Multi-tasking feels like work.
Are you cramming 10 hours of consumption in a 7 hour bag? Are your kids?