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Teens Use Media More than 23 Hours Daily

Update Date: May 14, 2012 07:26 PM EDT

Teens between the ages of 14 and 15 are plugged in media more than 23 hours per day.

It is according to a new University of Alabama at Birmingham study involving 55 Birmingham area adolescents.

"It's just crazy," says Aaron Davis, author of the study and doctoral candidate at UAB. "I knew that media use was significant in their lives but I didn't realize how consuming it was for them and that is concerning especially when you consider all they have access to online."

In the study, the participating teens along with their parents were surveyed regarding media use. Fifty-eight percent of the teens were female, and 53 percent were African-American. The adolescents were an average age of 14.89 years. The media hours were calculated independently so if they were talking on the cell phone for one hour while simultaneously watching television that counted as two hours.

It was found that on average each day teens spent more than six hours texting, three hours watching television, one and a half hours on Facebook, one hour on Twitter, one and a half hours on other Internet sites and one hour playing video games.

Parents also were asked to estimate how much time their children spent using media each day, and their answers differed from their children's by more than six hours.

The study also examined the way media use affects sleep. Nine of 10 said they have at least two media sources in their bedroom; more than one-third said they have four or more media sources in their bedroom. It was also found that 35 percent of students were awakened by their cell phone at least once each night.

Researchers encourage parents to set rules for their adolescents' media use, such as powering off cell phones at night and limiting screen time during the day. It is also recommended that parents know where their kids travel online and who they visit when texting, IMing and chatting.

David Schwebel, Ph.D., co-author and director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab say: "Teens these days enjoy the wonderful benefits of technology for communication, entertainment, and learning but we also have to figure out ways to set limits on teens' overuse of technology. Much as it can be difficult sometimes, parents have to stay involved and monitor their adolescents' use of technology. We have to work together to be sure teens use technology safely, get adequate sleep at night and do not use technology in while driving or in situations where their attention should be elsewhere, such as in a classroom."

The study was a part of a larger study on adolescents and sleep deprivation.

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