Americans use media more than they realise: Study

SOUTH CAROLINA: Americans spend more time than they realise with the media, especially television. They often use multiple media simultaneously. These findings are contained in a new study which was released at a conference on media convergence at the University of South Carolina.


The study concluded that residents of Middletown, USA (Muncie, Indiana) spend 10 and a half hours a day using media. For around a quarter of that time, they are using at least two media simultaneously. Television, at 4.5 hours a day, is the most used medium. It is followed by computers (2.4 hours), radio (1.9 hours), reading (1 hour), music (55 minutes), phone (53 minutes), video games (12 minutes) and e-mail (seven minutes).

An academic team compared reported media use from telephone surveys and personal diaries to actual, observed use. Researchers followed 101 subjects for an entire day from the time they got up to the time they went to bed. The researchers found that the group shadowed spent substantially more time with the media than indicated by more traditional research methods. The greatest discrepancy was in television viewership. The closest correlation between reported vs. observed behavior was in time spent reading. The study suggests self-reporting may be unreliable and that to be effective, research should measure more than one medium at a time.

The study also offers new insights into the reported drop in television viewership among 18 to 34 year old males. The men in this group observed by the researchers watched less TV than other demographic groups. They spend more time listening to music, watching videos and playing video games.

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