Screen time is up among American youth. According to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the time our kids spend watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the Internet is up to nearly eight hours a day. The amount of time spent consuming media is up by over an hour from just five years ago. I’m surprised the increase isn’t higher.

Victoria Rideout, vice president and director of the Program for the Study of Media and Health at the Kaiser Family Foundation said of the findings:

"The thing that jumps out is the enormous amount of time kids spend consuming media. It's more than seven and a half hours a day, seven days a week," she said. "That's more than 53 hours a week -- more time than grownups spend in a full-time job."

The report attributes the increased screen time to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods. (Can you say Nintendo DS? Aka “The Lifesaver”) Researchers found that 66 percent of children aged 8-18 now have cell phones, which have become multimedia devices with music, games, and TV. Kids are spending more time consuming media on their phones than actually talking to their friends.

Media Usage Breakdown

The report found the following time American children are spending consuming media daily:

  • 4 ½ hours watching TV
  • 2 ½ hours listening to music
  • 1 ½ hours on the computer
  • 1 ¼ hours
  • 38 minutes reading

The numbers, however, may be somewhat misleading because researchers also found that kids are multitasking, so some of this time overlaps. The worst news? Almost 50 percent of those surveyed reported use media while doing homework.

Do You Impose Time Limits on Media?

The report states that only 28 percent of American parents set parameters for their children’s media use in general and 30 percent set rules for video game use.

At our house the rule has been no TV or video games during the week. However, as the kids get older, it’s getting more difficult to impose. The lines are blurred. What’s an educational computer game? A little American Idol after dinner? And my daughter has discovered chatting. She and her friend up the street would write back and forth for hours if I let her. It’s hard to say no because it’s actually improving her writing.

Are you concerned about the volume of messages your children receive from society at large? And what are you doing about it?