Wed Mar 9, 2005 04:42 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Using computers, watching television and listening to music are nearly a full-time activity for most U.S. children, with the average 8- to 18-year-old taking in 6 1/2 hours a day, a report published on Wednesday said.
The study by the Kaiser Family Foundation was one of the few national efforts to attempt to verify how much time children spend with television and other media. It was based on classroom questionnaires given to more than 2,000 U.S. schoolchildren in the third to 12th grades.
Just over half said their families had no rules on watching television. Sixty-eight percent said they had a television in their bedroom, half had a VCR or DVD player and 31 percent had a computer in the bedroom.
The youngest children watched the most television, with 8- to 10-year olds watching more than four hours a day on average, including videos. Overall the children watched three hours and 51 minutes of television on average.
However, the study found that children who reported spending the most time with their parents were also the ones who reported watching the most television. "Perhaps that's how kids and their parents spend time together," said the report, available on the Internet at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/7251.cfm.
There was also a link between heavy use of video games and low grades, and this held true to a lesser degree for watching television or listening to music.
Fears that electronic media would rob children of more old-fashioned skills seem unfounded, the report finds.
"In a typical day, nearly three out of four (73 percent) of young people report reading for pleasure," the report reads.
"On average, 8- to 18-year-olds spend about three-quarters of an hour a day reading," it added.
"Interestingly, those young people who spend the most time watching TV (the 20 percent who watch more than five hours a day) don't report spending any less time reading than other young people do; and those who spend the most time playing console video games spend more time reading than those who play fewer video games."
Children were also multitasking. The report found that 26 percent used two or more media at the same time, for example, using the computer and television together.
Over a seven-day week the children spent 6 1/2 hours a day with "media" such as television, video games, music and computers, two hours with their parents, just over an hour a day in physical exercise or play, 50 minutes doing homework and half an hour doing chores.
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