Driven by increased popularity of mobile and online media, overall media consumption by the 8—18-year-old demographic has exploded over the past five years, according to a study released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average daily media use by young people in that age group was seven hours and 38 minutes in 2009, up from six hours and 21 minutes in 2004. And while the only segment to decline in use was print, book reading has held its own against the onslaught of new media channels.

On average, 8—18-year-olds spent 25 minutes per day reading books in 2009, up from 23 minutes in 2004 and 21 minutes in 1999. The survey found that 47% of people in that age range read books and those that do read an average of 54 minutes per day. Similar to the findings of earlier reading studies conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kaiser report found that reading for pleasure decreases as children get older. Children ages eight—10 read an average of 33 minutes a day, but 15—18-year-olds only read 21 minutes a day. The survey also found that reading, especially book reading, is the only media activity white youths devote more time to than black and Hispanic youths, and that book reading is one of only two activities that girls spend more time doing than boys (music listening is the other).

The results for newspaper and magazine reading were much less encouraging than for book reading, with eight—18-year-olds reading newspapers an average of only three minutes a day and magazines nine minutes a day. The survey did find, however, that 10% of people in that group read magazines and newspapers online. There was no figure on how much book reading is done online.

The most significant impact on the greater use of media by eight—18-year-olds in the 2004—2009 period was increased ownership of cellphones and MP3 players (including iPods). The survey found that 66% of youths in that age group owned a cellphone in 2009, up from 39% in 2004, while ownership of MP3 players/iPods jumped from 18% to 76%. Many publishers believe publishing material for cellphones will one day be the best way to reach young people, but the Kaiser study did not find evidence of youths using their cellphones to read yet. However, the study did find that cellphones have become a media platform for youths. In addition to talking (33 minutes) and texting (one hour and 35 minutes), people in the age group are using cellphones to listen to music and play games (17 minutes a day for both activities) and watch television (15 minutes).

Daily Media Usage by 8—18-year-olds (in minutes)

Among all 8—10 11—14 15—18 Boy Girl White Black Hispanic HS or less Some college College+
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Books 25 33 25 21 20 31 28 18 20 22 21 31
Magazines 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 11 10 9 6 10
Newspapers 3 3 3 4 4 3 3 4 3 4 2 3
Total print 38 46 37 33 33 43 39 33 34 35 30 44
Total media use 7:38 5:29 8:40 7:58 7:51 7:37 6:22 9:44 9:14 8:07 8:03 7:12