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The average American spends more time using media devices — television, radio, iPods and cellphones — than any other activity while awake, says a new study from Ball State University.
“As a society, we are consumers of media,” said Ball State's telecommunications professor Robert Papper. “The average person spends about nine hours a day using some type of media, which is arguably in excess of anything we would have envisioned 10 years ago.”
Research team members spent several months shadowing about 400 people — collecting and analyzing data on 5,000 hours of media use — in Muncie and Indianapolis. Recording information every 15 seconds, researchers measured participants' use of 15 media, including television, books, magazines, cellphones, the Internet, instant messaging, e-mail and radio.
Mike Bloxham, testing and assessment director at the school's Center for Media Design, said the subjects in the study were ordinary people, not a group of “media sophisticates who define themselves by the use of the latest media gadgets.”
Key findings of the research include:
About 30 percent of the observed waking day was spent with media as the sole activity vs. 20.8 percent for work activity, while an additional 39 percent of the day was spent with media while involved in some other activity.
In any given hour no less than 30 percent of those studied were engaged in some way with television, and in some hours of the day that figure rose to 70 percent.
While the average Americans spend 240.9 minutes with their televisions, the computer has emerged as the second most significant media device, at about 120 minutes.
About 30 percent of all media time is spent exposed to more than one medium at a time.
People ages 18 to 24 spend less time online than any other age group except those older than 65.
Women spend more time multitasking with two or more types of media than men.
Use of the Web, e-mail and phones is substantially higher on Fridays than any other day of the week.
To reach the researchers, contact Marc Ransford, media relations manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.