Entertainment media crowds teens' schedules

Researchers said more entertainment media time could mean lower grades.

Junior Lauren Sperandio works on a computer Thursday afternoon in Ellis Library. A recent study found kids ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours with an electronic device every day.

Young people are now spending as much time at school as they are using some form of electronic devices.

According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, young people aged 8 to 18 spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media every day.

Freshman Michelle Jankovich is no exception. Jankovich said she sends and receives around 800 text messages daily and spends about three hours on her phone texting.

"I want to stay in communication; a lot of my friends go to different colleges or are at home still," she said.

According to the survey, the time spent with entertainment media, such as televisions, phones, video games and laptops, has increased since 2004 by one hour and 17 minutes per day. Young people are also multi-tasking with their media and fitting 11 hours worth of content into a seven-and-a-half hour time frame.

"The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it's even more than a full-time work week," said Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation president and CEO, in a news release. "When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it's affecting them for good and bad."

Junior Christopher Binkley estimates he spends about five to six hours using some type of media per day, but he is pretty conscious of how much media he is consuming and is trying to lower it.

"I have to be extremely intentional to be focused because the temptation is to be unfocused," Binkley said.

These distractions, Binkley said, are often caused by different ads popping up while online and he feels he is "bombarded" with different messages.

The director of the study, Victoria Rideout, said the rise of the Internet and new forms of communication have made it easier to spend more time interacting with media.

"It's more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it's having on their lives," Rideout said in the release.

This media use does have its consequences, according to the survey, including lowering grades. Almost half of heavy media users say they get mostly Cs or lower compared to a quarter of light users.

Nutrition and exercise physiology professor Stephen Ball said this data is not "shocking," but it does show how technology is contributing to inactivity.

Ball said most of the activity children get is outside of school and many meet the daily health requirement of 60 minutes of physical activity. But he said consistent, rising obesity rates mean this requirement should be seen as a minimum.

For those who are obese as children, Ball said the risk for them to be obese later in life increases.

"If there is an obese toddler there is a 33 percent chance he will be an obese adult, middle school age 50 percent and teens 80 percent," Ball said.

The No. 1 reason people say they don't get enough physical activity, Ball said, is because they don't have enough time. One alternative Ball said is programs that combine exercise and technology.

"Wii Fit integrates technology and makes physical activity fun," he said. "It shouldn't replace traditional forms of physical activity but it's better than nothing."

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