Awash in Media: Online Kids Show Broad Use of TV, Phone, Radio

Nearly half of online children age 8 to 12 say they do nothing else but watch TV when it is on; but 52 percent are engaged in other forms of media consumption at the same time, according to a Nickelodeon Online/Harris Interactive KidPulse survey.

Sixteen percent of online 8 to 12-year olds report that during the previous day they talked on the telephone while simultaneously watching TV. Eleven percent report they surfed the Internet, 9 percent read a magazine, and 6 percent read a radio at the same time. Nearly one-third (31 percent) were doing “something else” entirely.

The study, conducted via the Internet by Harris Interactive, interviewed 612 children age 8 to 12.

“The inter-penetration of media consumption is greater among this online generation than in any previous generation,” said Melva Goffney, director of research and planning at Nickelodeon Online. “Not only is there more information and entertainment available to today’s young people, but there are more delivery, recording, and playback devices.”

Media Consumption
By Children 8-12

Use on an average day
TV 93%
Radio 63%
Video game 46%
Video/DVD 43%
Internet 37%
Magazine 31%
Source: Nickelodeon/Harris Interactive

The survey found that on an average day, 93 percent online children 8 to 12 watch TV, nearly two-thirds listen to radio (63 percent), and nearly half play a video game on a video game system (46 percent). Four in ten (43 percent) report watching a video or DVD, 37 percent say they surf or access the Internet, and 31 percent read a magazine.

“This generation is growing up inside a unique and fast-moving media, communications and entertainment space, but kids themselves change more slowly,” said Peter Silsbee, director of youth research, Harris Interactive. “For instance, there remain big differences between boys and girls in video game playing. Two-thirds (67 percent) of boys report playing on a video game system yesterday as compared to 24 percent of girls. In addition, 42 percent of 8 to 12 year olds boys say they surfed or accessed the Internet yesterday as compared to 30 percent of girls.”

The study also found media penetration differences by age as well as gender. Ten to 12 year-olds are twice as likely to have surfed or accessed the Internet in the previous day as compared to 8 to 9 year-olds (46 percent for 10 to 12 year-olds vs. 22 percent for 8 to 9 year-olds). Similarly, twice as many 10 to 12 year-olds watched a prerecorded video of a TV program as compared to 8 to 9 year-olds (19 percent vs. 8 percent).

Another study that looked at media consumption among children, the “NetValue Report on Minors,” found that minors (under age 17) spend more time surfing adult-oriented Internet sites than they do gaming sites or other entertainment sites.

According to NetValue, 27.5 percent of minors online visited an adult site in September of 2000, representing more than 3 million unique visitors. NetValue says that one of the most popular music sites among this age group had 802,400 unique visitors for the month of September 2000.

NetValue also found that 21.2 percent of the minors visiting adult sites are age 14 or under, and that 40.2 percent of all minors visiting adult sites are young women.

The number of minors visiting adult sites seems to increase during the summer months when schools are on recess. In July, NetValue found the audience of minors for adult sites surpassed that of the overall population (33.0 percent vs. 32.5 percent). In September, unique visitors to adult sites by minors decreased by 8.5 percent from August. NetValue’s September data also found that while minors visit game sites, they spend 64.9 percent more time overall on porn sites than on game sites. Additionally, in number of pages displayed, the gap is even wider as they displayed more than 103.8 percent more pages than on game sites.

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