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Common Sense Media Study Reveals Adolescents' Media Usage

Common Sense Media Study Reveals Adolescents' Media Usage

Common Sense Media's new study Common Sense Censes: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, reveals how much time adolescents are using various entertainment media each day.

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that helps families make smart media choices, just published its newest study, Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, which paints a more complete picture of how our adolescents (ages 8-18) are using media to text, research, share, consume, and connect, and how much time they’re spending on various media. The census also helped to identify seven distinct kids of media “diets” including mobile gamer, social networker, heavy viewer, video gamer, reader, light user, and gamer/computer user.
Here are eight key findings from the census:
  • Teens use an average of 9 hours of entertainment media per day, and tweens use an average of 6 hours. Those averages do not include time spent using media for school or homework. Of that, tweens average more than 4½ hours of screen media use a day and teens more than 6½ hours.

    Data is curated by and sourced from Common Sense Media.

    Data is curated by and sourced from Common Sense Media.

  • On any given day, 34 percent of tweens and 23 percent of teens spend 2 hours or less with screen media, while 11 percent of tweens and 26 percent of teens spend more than 8 hours.
  • Kids in lower-income homes are far less likely to have access to computers, tablets, and smartphones than their wealthier peers. When they do have access, though, they're likely to spend more time on devices (2 hours and 45 minutes on average).
  • Teen boys spend an average of 56 minutes a day playing video games, compared to girls, who average 7 minutes a day, but teen girls spend approximately 40 minutes more a day than boys on social media.
  • While social media is an integral part of most teens' lives—45 percent use it "every day"—only 36 percent say they enjoy using social media "a lot," and only 10 percent of teens say social media is their favorite media activity. Most tweens and teens enjoy listening to music (73 percent) and enjoy watching TV (45 percent) "a lot."
  • The vast majority of adolescents’ engagement with media consists of consuming it, while only 3 percent of tweens and teens are devoted to creating content.
  • Approximately half of the teens surveyed say they “often” or “sometimes” watch TV, use social media, text, or listen to music while doing homework, and most of them don’t think multitasking has any effect on the quality of their work.
  • Fifty-three percent of teens and 73 percent of tweens say their parents have talked to them about how much time they use social media, and 66 percent of teens and 84 percent of tweens say their parents have talked to them about the types of content they use. 

For more information, and to read more findings from the report, visit


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Katelin Walling

Author: Katelin Walling is the former editorial director for NYMetroParents. She has been writing about parenting, health, finance, education, fun things to do in NYC and the surrounding area, and more for nearly 10 years. She also has 20+ years of child care experience and was a babysitter in NYC for 8 years. Katelin graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute during the summer of 2011. To unplug in her free time, she can often be found reading, knitting (or general crafting), or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby. See More

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