How Much Media Do Kids Consume?

Last year I heard two boys in my class having a very heated discussion about a video they watched the night before. I kept hearing Ninja this and Ninja that. After listening to the boys talk about “Ninja” for a couple minutes, curiosity finally got the better of me. “Who’s Ninja?” I asked.

They both looked at me like I just fell off the turnip truck. “Mr. Rashid, Ninja is just the best gamer in the world,” one of the boys replied. It turns out they were just two of the 22.3 million subscribers Ninja has on Youtube.

This interaction, and having ten-year-old daughter myself, really made me wonder just how much media our students and children are consuming. It turns out, Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization who analyzes media use by children and families, had the same wonderings. They conducted a study of how children ages 8-18 use and consume media.

A few points in the key findings really stood out to me:

  • The number of 8-year-olds with a phone increased from 11% in 2015 to 19% in 2019;
  • Children, 8- to 12-years old, average 4 hours 44 minutes of screen media each day, not including time at school or working on homework;
  • 51% of teens read for fun at least once a month;
  • Lower income children spend almost 2 hours more with entertainment media per day than their higher income peers (5:49 to 3:59);
  • Teens using a computer daily for homework has risen 30% in four years – 29% in 2015 to 59% in 2019;
  • Daily computer use for homework has also risen among tweens – 11% in 2015 to 27% in 2019;
  • Low-income teens spend less time (34 minutes per day) using a computer for homework than their higher-income peers (55 minutes per day).

What really jumped out at me was that children (8-12) are on a device consuming entertainment for almost 5 hours a day. That’s time they’re not reading, playing outside, or spending quality time with their friends and families. Children using devices isn’t a passing fad, and I would be shocked if the numbers related to children and media screen time don’t continue to rise in the coming years. As educators, and as a society, we need to figure out the implications of this increase in screen time.