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How to Get Control of Your Wired Kids

Eight-to-18-year-olds now spend as much time listening to music, watching TV and being entertained online as most adults spend at work, according to a new study.

Wired Teens Hooked on Electronics

What's behind the startling statistic?

Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, explained on "The Early Show" that the numbers drastically rose since the 2004 statistics were released.

"We first did this study in 1999. We found kids were spending about six hours a day with media. We did it again in 2004. We found they were spending about six hours a day with media," she said. "And now we do it in 2009, and we find they're spending more than 7.5 hours a day with media, using at least one -- and sometimes more than one -- type of media. So we had thought that there was a ceiling, and then we found that that ceiling just got shattered."

Rideout said the culprit for the increased use is probably mobile media.

In addition, minorities, the study found, consume an additional three hours of media. How does this occur?

Rideout said that's "always" been the case.

"We have always found that African-American and Hispanic kids spend more time with media than white kids do," she said. "The gap has grown even more pronounced over the last five years. And, again, I think it is primarily because minority kids are really taking to the mobile media in even a bigger way than white kids. They're really listening to music, playing games, surfing the Internet on their cell phones and their iPods. And that's adding up to a lot more time spent with media."

Of those hours online, Rideout said kids spend an average just 16 minutes a day online doing homework. One third of kids also use another form of media, such as TV, texting or listening to music, while they're doing their homework.

As for a statistic that 47 percent of heavy media users received grades on a C level or lower, Rideout said there's "definitely a relationship," saying heavy media users are more likely to receive lower grades than light users.

"We don't know for sure if the media use is causing that. I think when you look at the fact that so many kids did say that when they're doing their homework they're also using media - that may be part of the equation. ... Certainly if it's something that parents are concerned about, then there's definitely some things they can do to try to curb that."

According to Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and adolescent psychologist, parents can set limits.

"The study shows the more limits set, the less media usage," she said. "This is part of our children's future, they're going to be involved with all these things. But it's so important to say, "At dinner we're going to sit together and talk.' Or 'While you're doing your homework, if you need some music, maybe, but you can't be video chatting or watching TV.' Multitasking doesn't really work even though we do it all the time. So setting limits one thing at a time."

Read the Full Study
Youths Spend 7+ Hours a Day Consuming Media

Hartstein said parents should also know as much as they can what their children are doing.

"You're never going to always know," she said. "But the more you know, the better equipped you are you to handle any problems that come up, intervene with grades, all of those things."

Hartstein added if your children just don't listen, you can shut everything down. She said parents have the ability to take the computer, the TV and any other electronic devices out of their rooms.

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