And this would be the exception: Green Day helps a Welsh lad wake from a two-week coma following a car accident. Dare we advise parents to keep a copy of "American Idiot" in their emergency kit - just in case?


BY THIS INTERPRETATION OF MULTITASKING, WE SPENT 37 HOURS ONLINE YESTERDAY Our friends at the Kaiser Family Foundation have released a new study - "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds" - which claims that American kids age 8-18 are devoting an increasing amount of their time on media like TV, video games and the Internet. But note the innovative methodology the foundation employed (emphasis ours) :

.... the total amount of media content young people are exposed to each day has increased by more than an hour over the past five years (from 7:29 to 8:33), with most of the increase coming from video games (up from 0:26 to 0:49) and computers (up from 0:27 to 1:02, excluding school-work). However, because the media use diaries indicate that the amount of time young people spend “media multi-tasking” has increased from 16% to 26% of media time, the actual number of hours devoted to media use has remained steady, at just under 6  hours a day (going from 6:19 to 6:21), or 44  hours a week ....

So, perhaps to make their claims seem more alarming, with the goal of, say, gaining more press attention for a study that in fact shows no real increase in the total amount of time kids spend with media, Kaiser has violated all laws of physics, and possibly created an irreparable rift in the space-time continuum, by unraveling kids' multitasking time. Did you just spend an hour reading the newspaper with the TV on? That now counts as two hours. And you thought there weren't enough hours in the day. . .

Senator Hillary Clinton is apparently untroubled by Kaiser's callous manipulation of the fourth dimension. In fact, she sees the study as cause for some serious changes in the media:

Sen. Hillary Clinton . . . noted that the new data is good reason for marketers to make greater efforts to curb violent content and pitches for unhealthy food in their advertising.

Now, we at zealously agree that marketers need to curb advertising that targets young children, especially for unhealthy foods. (And PBS ought to be first in line.) We have and will continue to flog-and-blog that horse in this space. But the Kaiser study shows us multitasking kids who may are probably paying less attention to TV ads while they thumb their GameBoys (you know, a decade ago, that last phrase would have sounded a little bit dirty). As such, the new study is not necessarily a justification for major changes in the media. On the other hand, the industry isn't so worried about Clinton's proposed solution:

"Food advertisers should be more responsible about the effect they are having," the New York Democrat said. "I would like to see the entire food industry come together to develop voluntary guidelines that take their responsibility to children seriously."

Dick O'Brien, executive vice president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, said his group was pleased Mrs. Clinton was asking for voluntary action by marketing companies rather than government intervention.

. . . because they don't have to do it.

March 8, 2005 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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