As anyone who knows a teen or a tween can attest, media are among the most powerful forces in young people’slives today. Eight- to eighteen-year-olds spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping—an average of more than 7½ hours a day, seven days a week. The TV shows they watch, video games they play, songs they listen to, books they read and websites they visit are an enormous part of their lives, offering a constant stream of messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food, values, clothes, and an abundance of other topics too long to list.
Understanding the role of media in young people’s lives is essential for those concerned about promoting the healthy development of children and adolescents, including parents, pediatricians, policymakers, children’s advocates, educators,
and public health groups. It is the purpose of this study to foster that understanding by providing data about young people’s media use: which media they use, which they own, how much time they spend with each medium, which activities they engage in, how often they multitask, and how they differ from one another in the patterns of their media use. Our aim is to provide a more solid base from which to examine media’s effects on children and to help guide those who are proactively using media to inform and educate America’s youth.