Media Use Up 17% among Tweens and Teens
Could increased media use be affecting literacy rates? A new research report from Common Sense Media reveals that media use by eight- to 18-year-olds has grown faster during the two years of the pandemic than it had over the four years before the pandemic began. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2021 compares screen use before and during the pandemic. The latest data shows that from 2015 to 2019, entertainment screen use, excluding media and tech use for school or homework, grew only 3% for tweens and 11% for teens. But from 2019–2021 alone, after the start of the pandemic, screen use grew by 17% for both age groups. In the past two years, average daily screen use jumped to 5:33 (hr:min) from 4:44 among tweens and up to 8:39 from 7:22 among teens.
The report also looks at how kids are spending their time online and how much they enjoy various media activities. While social media is popular among teens and growing more popular with tweens, not all of them are enjoying the experience. About 84% of teens surveyed say they use social media, but only 34% say they enjoy using social media “a lot,” which is much lower than the 62% who say they enjoy watching online videos that much.
The survey found that social media use is increasing for eight- to twelve-year-olds, an age group that is technically not allowed to have access to the main social media platforms. Among respondents surveyed in this age group, 38% say that they use some form of social media, up from 31% in 2019.
“The aging down of social media is something we should be concerned about, as social media platforms are not designed with children in mind,” says Michael Robb, senior director of research at Common Sense Media.
The report also addresses differences in gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background when it comes to media use. While screen time has risen across the board, boys use more screen media than girls, Black and Hispanic youth use more screen media than White youth, and tweens and teens in lower-income households engage with substantially more screen media than their peers in higher-income households. Kids in lower-income households also read more (42 minutes vs. 34 minutes a day).
Download the full report at www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/research/report/8-18-census-integrated-report-final-web_0.pdf.
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