Friday, January 29, 2010

Generation M2: Media in the lives of young people

The Kaiser Family Foundation released an important study earlier this month on the media use of young people. Titled Generation M²: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, the study is the latest in a series of surveys of media use of young people over a 10-year-period.

A few quotes from the "Key Findings" section jumped out at me:
"Over the past five years, young people have increased the amount of time they spend consuming media by an hour and seventeen minutes daily, from 6:21 to 7:38—almost the amount of time most adults spend at work each day."

"Youth who spend more time with media report lower grades and lower levels of personal contentment... Heavy media users are also more likely to say they get into trouble a lot, are often sad or unhappy, and are often bored."

"Two groups of young people stand out for their high levels of media consumption: those in the tween and early teen years (11- to 14-year-olds), and Blacks and Hispanics."
In an interesting discussion with technology teachers and principals, some felt that we should embrace this phenomena, and find ways to engage students and deliver instruction in more mediated ways. Others suggested media zones at schools, like the smoking patio of old (my high school had one), where kids would be free to use their cell phones and MP3 players. Still others had an opposite response: schools should provide more unmediated spaces, like basketball programs or chess clubs or cheerleading, and more opportunities to engage with the outdoors.

I see another implication of the study: we should be emphasizing media literacy (e.g., how to "read" a television show or an advertisement or a music video or even a video game) more. We have a detailed set of standards and goals and performance objectives for the written word. Perhaps an expanded set of learning goals for other media, so that students can become more critical consumers of all of the media they are exposed to...


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