Media Consumption and Trends

Sources: “How Teens Use Media” released by The Nielsen Company June 2009, The Nielsen Company on 11/24/08 and 10/26/09, HealthDay News and Kaiser Family Foundation on 01/20/10, Sesame Workshop March 2011, Common Sense Media Fall 2011, Broadcasting & Cable on 05/25/10, the U.S. Census Bureau, and Movieguide®.

Note: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has not published a March report on media consumption since 2008. Therefore, we are using more recent sources.

MOVIEGUIDE®’s research indicates that, by the time a child is 17, he or she will have spent 51,800 to 60,200 hours using various media.

According to the United States Census Bureau and the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average person spends about 3,543 hours or more each year using various media. That works out to about 60,231 hours by the time the average person reaches 17. Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Sesame Workshop, the Nielsen Company, and Common Sense Media also reveal that, between the ages of 0-6 and 8-18, the average child will have consumed at least 51,820 hours of media. 

Hours of Media Consumption, US Census Bureau

Per Person Per Year



Filmed Entertainment


Cable & Satellite TV


Broadcast TV


Computer and Internet


Home Video


Box Office


In-Flight and Mobile






Other Entertainment




Recorded Music








Video Games










Based on the totals in this table, the average American teenager from age 13 through 18 consumes at least 21,258 hours of television, movies, videos, DVD, radio, recorded music, video games, books, magazines, and newspapers, etc.

Also, from age 6 through 12, the average American child will have consumed about 24,801 hours of media.

Taken together, that totals 46,059 hours from age 6 through age 18.

According, however, to a recent study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation January of last year, children age 8 to 18 are spending more than 75 hours per week, or 3,913 hours per year with the media, including watching TV, surfing the Internet, listening to music, playing video games, going to movies, and reading.

This lines up fairly well with a report by Nielsen released previously, in June 2009, “How Teens Use Media,” which, when combined with statistics on reading and listening to radio or recorded music, estimates approximately 4,065 hours a year of total media consumption by teenagers.

However, the recent statistic from Kaiser about children means that the average American child age 6 through 18 is consuming about 50,869 hours of media.

Using the table above, however, by the time the average child reaches 17, he will have consumed up to 60,000 hours of media.

That’s nearly six times more hours than the average child will have spent in school (11,000 hours), 30 times more hours than he will spend with his parents (2,000 hours), and about 75 times more hours he will spend in church (800 hours), if he attends once a week every week!!!

Finally, according to a new study released last May by the Television Bureau of Advertising, adults are actually spending 1,929 hours annually watching Cable, Satellite and Broadcast TV as opposed to the 1,704 hours in the above chart.


Do you enjoy articles like this? Click here to become a monthly partner and receive a copy of UNPLANNED on DVD!  

Want more content like this? Make a donation to Movieguide®