Some screens are wide, some are handheld, but all add up to too much of our time.

In a study released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, we learned that daily media use among young kids and teens is up dramatically from five years ago. The average American child (ages 8 to 18) now spends seven hours 38 minutes plugged in per day. That’s 53 hours per week watching electronic entertainment media—an increase of more than one hour per week from just a few years ago.

Higher, nearly addiction-level use of mobile and handheld media—especially texting—is driving this increase. Some of us don’t really talk to friends anymore—young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their phones than they spend chatting on them.

On similar note, a recent Mommy Tech Summit at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) shared some interesting statistics about the parental generation; the majority of 21st century moms—65 percent—use five or more forms of technology every day. The CES summit labels their audience as “Cool, Calm and Connected”—but maybe too connected? Are parents applying standard household rules to kids’ use of media?

The Kaiser Family study says no—that only about three in 10 young people have rules limiting TV, video games, and the computer. In my family growing up, we couldn’t watch television during the weekdays. Maybe nowadays when mom is busy texting, she doesn’t notice her kids glued freely and simultaneously to wide screened and handheld devices.

The bottom line—families need to Be Out There more than they are. Kids who spend time outside have fitter bodies, better eyesight, less stress, and better grades. Check out this article to read 10 Reasons Kids Need Fresh Air. Then shut it down and get out there.

Full results of Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds at

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Published: January 21, 2010