No time flat

Kids spend 12 minutes a day reading periodicals

Kids spend almost as much time each day engaging with media as adults spend working full time. But young people spend very little of that time reading.

No time flat

Sign of the times Americans aged 8 to 18 spend nearly eight hours a day with media. They spend less than 3% of that time reading.

That’s according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, which followed 2,000 people aged 8 to 18.

Reading down …

Kids spend more time than they did five or 10 years ago engaging with of all kinds of media … except the written word. Kids read:

  • Magazines for 9 minutes a day (down from 14 five years ago)
  • Newspapers for 3 minutes a day (down from 6)
  • Books for 25 minutes a day (up from 21 a decade ago)

Kids spend an average of 2 minutes a day reading magazines and newspapers online, the study says.

How much of that time are they spending on your messages? (Find out how much time it takes people to read your piece.)

… All other media usage up

Americans aged 8 to 18 spend 7.5 hours a day, seven days a week, on a computer, watching television, using their cell phones, playing video games or listening to music. That’s more time than they spend with any other activity besides sleeping.

That number jumps to 10 hours and 45 minutes a day when you take into account information multitasking, where people engage with multiple devices at once.

Those numbers are a big jump from five years ago. Then, young people averaged 6 hours and 21 minutes a day engaging with media. And they packed more than 8-and-a-half hours worth of media content into that time by multitasking.

All of which means that kids spend less than 3% of their media time reading.

Daily newspaper reading down

The proportion of young people who read newspapers every day also dropped, according to the study. Kids who read newspapers dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009.

Leisure reading down

Some 45% of 17-year-olds say they read for fun only a few times a year at most, according to a report from Common Sense Media. That’s up from 19% in 1984, when no one had smartphones.

  • Think Like a Reader

    Move people to act

    It’s counterintuitive, but true: The product is never the topic. The program is never the topic. The plan is never the topic. The topic is never the topic. The reader is always the topic.

    Think Like a Reader in Dallas

    Indeed, the secret to reaching readers is to position your messages in your audience’s best interests. (Most communicators position their messages in their organization’s best interests. Which is fine, as long as you’re talking to yourself.)

    Move readers to act with a four-step process for giving people what they really want.

    At Catch Your Readers — our two-day hands-on persuasive-writing master class on Oct. 2-3 in Dallas — you’ll learn a four-step process for moving readers to act by giving them what they really want. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • Take advantage of the formula readers use to determine which messages to pay attention to (and which to toss).
    • Tap two rewards of reading you can use to boost audience interest in your message.
    • Answer the No. 1 question your reader is asking, regardless of your topic, medium or channel.
    • Make a two-minute perspective shift to focus your message on the value to readers — not on “us and our stuff.”
    • Use a three-letter word that magically makes your message more relevant to your readers.


Sources: Matt Connolly, “You’ll Be Shocked At How Much Time Young People Spend Reading Each Day,” News.Mic, June 20, 2014

American Time Use Survey Summary,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 18, 2014

Youths Spend 7+ Hours/Day Consuming Media,” CBS News, Jan. 20, 2010

Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens Up Dramatically From Five Years Ago,” The Henry J. Kaiser Family, Foundation, Jan. 20, 2010

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