Media Use Is A Full Time Job

from Yolanda Evans, MD

Did you know that the amount of time kids spend watching TV, using the computer, and listening to music is the same as a full time job?



A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation tracked the use of media, such as TV, computers, MP3 players, and cell phones, in youth ages 8 to 18 years.  The average amount of time that children and teens spent using these devices each day was 7 hours and 38 minutes. This amount went up when they added in the time that children and teens multitask, or use more than one device at the same time. In all, youth are packing in 10 hours and 45 minutes of media use in a day.  This is more than a full time job!


As children get older, around the ages of 11 to 14, media use increases a lot.  Some children and teens are heavy users of media, and spend more than 16 hours a day using media. Researchers found that heavy media use was linked with having lower grades, being bored more often and being less likely to get along with parents.  They also found differences by race. Hispanic and African American children use media the most (especially TV and music). 


Watching TV, using a computer, and other media use is often done while sitting. This means that children and teens might be missing out on doing physical activity. Being inactive and sitting a lot is linked with being overweight. To prevent this and other problems, there are ways parents can decrease their child or teen’s use of the media:

  • Keep TV out of your child or teen’s bedroom.
  • Turn off the TV during meals.
  • Limit TV and computer use.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of total screen time (TV, video games, computer) each day.
  • Make rules to limit time with media. For example, do not allow using a cell phone, computer, video games, or TV 1 hour before bed time.





Generation M2 Media in the Lives of 8-18 year olds. A Kaiser Family Foundation Study. January 2010. 


Barnett TA, O’Loughlin J, Sabiston CM, Karp I, Belanger M, Van Hulst A, Lambert M. Teens and screens: the influence of screen time on adiposity in adolescents. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jul 8 [Epub]


Must A, Tybor DJ. Physical activity and sedentary behavior: a review of longitudinal studies of weight and adiposity in youth. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Sep;29 Suppl 2:S84-96