A new report confirms that Americans “swim in an ocean of media” The study of media use in the sociological Mecca of Muncie Indiana found that more than two-thirds of people’s waking moments involved some sort of media usage. A third of the day is spent exposed multiple types of media at the same time, which the study calls Concurent Media Exposure, though I’d suspect most of us know it as “multitasking.

The results of this study were widely reported in a USA TODAY report.


The USA TODAY report was based on an article originally published in the Christian Science Monitor.


The Christian Science Monitor report was triggered by a report issued by the Ball State Center for Media Design. The study, which is available for sale on the center’s website, used 150 trained observers to gather data using naturalistic methods. USA Today describes the study methodology:

Researchers watched the behavior of 394 ordinary Midwesterners for more than 5,000 hours, following them 12 hours a day and recording their use of media every 15 seconds on a hand-held device.

Key findings:

The newspaper reports of the study called into question some of the key assumptions of much of the writing of Net Gen, Generation M, and Digital Natives that only the young engage in “Concurrent Media Exposure.”

One theory the study lays to rest, Mr. Bloxham says, is that this media multitasking, which the researchers call Concurrent Media Exposure, “is the province of only the young or the tech savvy.” All age groups multitask, he says, though the pairings may differ. Those over 50, for example, were more likely to combine TV viewing with newspaper reading. Younger people might listen to music while sending instant messages.

Television remains a key part of the media mix.

Watching television remains by far the most popular media-related activity. More than 90% of those studied viewed TV, for an average of about four hours per day. About three-quarters used a computer, for a little more than two hours per day.

Thanks to: The Kept-Up Academic Librarian for a lead on some valuable additional information from Campus Technology magazine.