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More Media Means Lower Grades. And What You Can Do About It.

The amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically according to Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year Olds, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study. While researchers have not established a cause and effect relationship between media use and academic performance, it should not come as a surprise to today’s parents that heavy media users are getting lower grades.

Vicky Rideout, Vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of the Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health, points out:

  • Today’s young people devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day. This adds up to more than 53 hours a week, the equivalent of a full-time job.
  • About half (47%) of media heavy users (more than 16 hours a day) report getting Cs or lower in school, compared to almost a quarter (23%) of light users (less than three hours a day).
  • Half of the kids say that when doing homework they usually multitask by using some other form of media at the same time.
  • The average student’s homework to internet time is 16 minutes of homework to 1.5 hours of internet.

Although children with any media rules consume nearly three hours less media per day than those with no rules, only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%) or playing video games (30%), and 36% say the same about using the computer. Child psychologist, Dr. Jennifer Hartstein recommends that parents disallow video chatting and TV watching while doing homework. For kids who don’t live by these limits, parents may choose to remove the offending media until the student is able to avoid distractions and make education the priority.

Another option offered by Rideout is for parents to use these findings to “look at what goes on in their own families … and talk about it.”


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