An almost unbelievable finding from a new Kaiser Family Foundation study: Other than time in school, the average American kid spends almost all of his or her waking time using a smart phone, computer, television, or some other electronic device. My jaw dropped to learn that kids are on these devices 7.5 hours a day (up from 6.5 hours only five years ago). And as Tamar Lewin points out in her New York Times article on the study, because young people so often do two electronic things at once (e.g., texting while watching TV), it’s actually closer to 11 hours a day.
A good question for intervention programs that work with young people is: How do we respond to an almost exclusively on-line world? It seems like we should be adapting all of the programming we do with young people to reach them where they spend most of their time. We are seeing a seismic shift in how kids spend their time, and where they get information. The challenge for youth development and risk prevention programs is to develop an on-line presence that gets kids information “where they live.” In particular, we may need to familiar with social networking and how to use it to reach young people.