Researchers have seen the future and they are all watching YouTube.
Kids and teens aged 8 to 18 spend seven-and-a-half hours a day, seven days a week, engaging with media, more time than they spend with any other activity besides sleeping.
That number jumps to 10 hours and 45 minutes a day when taking into account that young people often engage with more than one form of media at a time.
In fact, kids and teens are spending more consuming media per week than the average adult spends at work.
"This is a game changer," co-author Donald Roberts said during a panel discussion when the survey of 2,002 young people was released Wednesday. "We're really close to kids being online 24/7."
Kids, the survey showed, now spend more time listening to music, playing games and watching TV on their cell phones than talking on them. Perhaps more surprising: Only about three in 10 said their parents have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV or playing video games.
Not all parents consider all that time spent on technology a bad thing. Craig Kaminer's 19-year-old and 16-year-old boys have laptops, high-speed internet connections, Xbox, HDTV, iPhones, video chat, iPods, GPSes, DirectTV with DVR, Kindles and digital cameras.
"They're connected to the internet, each other and us from the second they wake up until they go to sleep," said Kaminer, of St. Louis. "In general, they're very grounded and handle the balance well."
Others, though, find balance elusive. Things changed for Betsy Tant in Knoxville, Tenn., when her 11-year-old daughter received an iTouch for Christmas.
"She's obsessed with it all of a sudden," said Tant, 40. "That really caught me off guard. She's had a computer for a while, but now she wants to check her e-mail all the time. We've had to set limits."
Tant considers herself an exception in the limit-setting department, refusing to provide her daughter text service, for instance. Many parents she knows don't bother.
"It gets them out of their hair, I think," she said.
With so much temptation - internet-equipped mobile devices, better home connectivity, video gaming online and off, social media and TV-like content on any device - many parents say schoolwork is suffering.
The researchers warned that further study is required to link media use with any impact on the health of young people or their grades. But 47 percent of heavy media users among those surveyed said they earn mostly Cs or lower, compared with 23 percent of light users. The study classified heavy users as consuming more than 16 hours a day and light users as less than three hours.
Flaxington, 49, learned in November that her teen went weeks without turning in homework in math and other subjects, so they arranged for her to complete assignments at the end of the day at school, where cell phones are banned and computers weren't available.
"It was impossible to get her to focus at home," Flaxington said.
Dr. Russell Hyken, a therapist who specialises in tweens and teens, is seeing a growing number of young patients with obsessive interest in gaming and computers, including a high school junior who took to urinating in a bottle while playing online and a college kid who shaved his head to save time on hair washing in the shower so he could return to the computer more quickly.
Both, he said, were sent to residential treatment programs for those and related problems.
"It's almost an obsessive-compulsive desire to be the best. One client had to be in the top five scores on a web site at which half a million people were playing," Hyken said. "They're using it as a way to escape reality."
Marci Gerwe in Nashville, Tenn., considers herself among the lucky: Her boys, ages 13 and 15, abide by family rules. No laptops after 10 p.m. No video games during the week unless they're exercising at the same time. And absolutely no texting during meals.
Still, she says she has watched their habits change dramatically in the last two years.
"With texting and Facebook, I'm seeing there's a whole loss of ability to interact or talk on a more personal level, especially for my older one," she said. "There's a lot of confusion over what people mean."
And many parents report less than stellar success with imposing restrictions on mobile devices and computers. Young people are genius in finding ways around them.
Beth Shumate, who lives near Dallas, said her 13-year-old and 15-year-old boys are so obsessed with the massive online quest game RuneScape that she locks the laptop, keyboard and mouse in her car at night. Before she took that step, "I caught my 13-year-old playing it at 5:30 in the morning."
Hyken said there's no way around the need for parents to take charge. He suggests setting up a central location far from bedrooms at night to plug in all devices, and holding firm on no TV or computer use after certain hours, with absolutely none during meals. Encourage extracurricular activities away from home, where use of mobile devices would be impossible, like sports.
"It's never too late to start but much harder when they're 15 or 16," he said. "If a kid is making good grades and is in some extracurricular activity or working part-time, and they're nice to their parents, you've won the game."
source: newshub archive