Shock study: Kids spend a lot of time online, using their phones

Kids wear rings, too

It was only five years ago that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 “only” spent 6.5 hours online. Today, these same kids (well, the same age group) now spend some 7.5 hours online per day between the computer and their mobile. That may not sound like a much until you ask: where did these kids find an entire extra hour to mess around online? It’s even crazier when you consider that many of these hours are spent multi-tasking—watching YouTube while listening to iTunes, for example. If you think of it like that, then you can say that kids today are cramming 11 hours of media consumption per day into that 7.5-hour window. Remember: it was only a few years ago that these same kids would have been working in the textile factories of Manchester, so let’s not feel too bad for them.

So the study, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and entitled Generation M2 (not the failed Matsushita video game console, to make an obscure reference for no particular reason): Media in the Lives of 8-to-18-Year-Olds, followed more than 2,000 kids from October 2008 to May 2009, effectively an entire school year. (You’ll note that this time frame was before Twitter really exploded, so its representation in the study is simply not there. QQ.) It found that, among other things, kids consume an extraordinary amount of media per day. In fact, the New York Times story quotes a pedidtrician who all but threw his hands in the air, saying that arguing that kids shouldn’t use/consume so much media is now akin to complaining that kids breathe oxygen. The genie is out of the bottle, and he’s surfing YouTube on his smart phone.

The ramifications for this are sorta unexciting. I mean, 47 percent of the most media-consumey kids did poorly in school (Cs or lower), but who’s to say that, years ago, these same kids wouldn’t have gotten poor grades because they were playing stickball in the streets? Or maybe they’re just dumb kids? Not every horse is a thoroughbred.

One kid quoted in the story, from the BX Boro, said he gets something like 500 text messages per day. He’s 14-years-old!

And a word of caution to so-called “old media,” a phrase without equal in terms of silliness: kids aren’t consuming you anymore. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement, but the amount of plain ol’ television that kids watch is going down. Rather, kids will catch “TV Show” on something like Hulu. Now, in and of itself that isn’t bad—people are still watching—but the way they’re watching is changing to a degree that you don’t seem prepared for. This whole Conan-Leno-NBC mess? Do you think that, in 5-10 years, people will still have it programmed into their schedule to watch whomever hosts The Tonight Show, day in, day out? Will the show even be relevant anymore, a host telling a few topical jokes, then interviewing whatever celebrity happens to have a movie coming out that week? Seems to me that that idea is just old, much like Leno fans themselves.

Presumably kids don’t read anymore, unless they’re told to.