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A View from David Appell

Media Consumption

What activity occupies the average American most? Consuming media. That’s the conclusion of a Ball State University study. Researchers followed subjects around and every 15 seconds recorded what they were doing. (That must have been weird.) About 30% of the…

  • September 28, 2005

What activity occupies the average American most? Consuming media. That’s the conclusion of a Ball State University study. Researchers followed subjects around and every 15 seconds recorded what they were doing. (That must have been weird.) About 30% of the day was was spent with media as the sole activity (TV, the Internet, music, radio, phones) versus 20.8% for work activity. An additional 39 percent of the day was spent with media while involved in some other activity, such as working, cooking, eating, etc. (The Christian Science Monitor has a nice graph at the bottom of this article.)

That’s a whopping 69% of a day spent in one medium or another.

Some other interesting facts:


  • Television is still by far the dominant medium, with the average American spending 240.9 minutes in front of it a day–that’s 6 hours!
  • The computer has emerged as the second most significant media device at about 120 minutes.
  • People ages 18 to 24 spend less time online than any other age group except those older than 65.
  • Levels of concurrent media exposure were higher among those 40 to 65 than people 18 to 39 (this surprises me a lot).
  • Women spend more time multitasking with two or more types of media than men (this surprises me too).
  • Use of the Web, e-mail and phones is substantially higher on Fridays than any other day of the week.

It will be interesting to see, as time goes by, how and if the Internet displaces television as number one medium.

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