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Just released: A Common Sense Census

Common Sense Media just released a major study that will be of interest to any educator interested in understanding how kids actually use technology.  The results make fabulous fodder for faculty discussion.  It may help guide decision making in addressing instruction and issues of equity.

The large scale study, Media Use by Teens and Tweens offers a comprehensive picture of the use of media by kids, age 8 to 18 in the U.S., including the level of enjoyment, frequency of use, and amount of time devoted to a wide array of media activities and devices.

Highlights of the research are compiled on this infographic and in Michael Robb’s Graphite blog post.

Among the major findings are some no-brainers.  Kids love media. They watch television everywhere. They use multiple devices at a time. They prefer to multitask when doing homework–listening to music, texting and watching television–and they don’t believe multitasking compromises the quality of their work.

The results clearly reveal equity as a major issue.  Kids in lower income homes have less access and fewer devices and less likely to use technology in doing their homework.

The ten official key findings:

1. On any given day, American teenagers (13- to 18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework Tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) use an average of about six hours’ (5:55) worth of entertainment media daily.
2. From Gamers to Social Networkers, patterns of use vary widely among young media users.
3. Boys and girls have very different media preferences and habits.
4. Despite the variety of new media activities available to them, watching TV and listening to music dominate young people’s media diets.
5. Tween and teen media consumption is highly mobile.
6. Even among teens, social media use still lags behind traditional media use.
7. Digital screen media are used for many purposes: reading, watching, playing, listening, communicating, and creating.
8. There is a large “digital equality gap” in ownership of computers, tablets, and smartphones.
9. More parents are concerned about the type of media content their children use than how much time they spend using it.
10. Many teens multitask with media while doing their homework, and most think this has no effect on the quality of their work.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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