If you've spent any time trying to talk to a teenager lately, then the latest numbers on how much time they spend with their nose buried in a glowing screen of some sort will come as no surprise. Whether it's text messaging, Tweeting, watching YouTube videos on their iPhone, lurking on a social networking site like Myspace or Facebook or doing something as old-fashioned as watching TV, teens are spending more time than ever before consuming some sort of media.
According to a study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation, those between the ages of eight and 18 devote just under eight hours a day to media consumption and, depending on how you look at it, that may be the least surprising of the numbers.
The study consists of a survey of 2,002 3rd to 12th graders, ages eight to 18, with 700 of those respondents filling out a "media-use diary" for seven days. From these diaries, it found that respondents used media for an average of seven hours and 38 minutes during the survey period. However, due to multi-tasking - for instance texting while watching TV - teens actually crammed 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption into those approximately seven and a half hours.
What's even more notable about these numbers is that the average teen has increased their media consumption by nearly two-and-a-quarter hours since the last survey, which was conducted in 2004.
Increased mobile media use and lax rules are two driving factors behind this growth in media consumption, the report says.
In a dramatic increase from 2004, cell phone ownership among the respondents jumped from 39% to 66%, while ownership of iPods and MP3 players jumped from 18% to 76%. Only about three in 10 had any rules regarding their use of these devices. And with cell phones becoming increasingly Internet-connected, their owners reported using them for media purposes more than their original purpose - actually talking to other people.
With teens spending more time with media in a week than the average person does at a full-time day job, we can only wonder what this next generation will look like as they enter the work force. Oh wait, are they called "bloggers"?
And to think, time spent texting was actually not included in the times for media consumption.
Photo of children on computer by Flickr user Erik Hersman.