Sky falling on online teens (get umbrellas here)

Teens spend 31 hours a week online.

Tim O’Reilly, retweeting Steve Case (who knows a thing or two about wasting time—I mean, time spent online).

I don’t know how much time teens spend online; my youngest child hasn’t been a teen in years.  I thought two things on seeing this:  (a) Twitter isn’t good at nuance, and (b) having Bill Gates over for dinner won’t make me a billionaire, averages be damned.

Was that cosmetic surgery, gaming, or homework?31 hours is roughly 4½ per day.  Toss in time to sleep, time for school, talking or texting with friends, and the average kid might be scrambling (the way the plumber will when that dogsled arrives with the new fixtures).

I went to the link O’Reilly sent (an article at CrunchGear), which said the figure was for UK teens surveyed by a research group.  CrunchGear in turn linked to a Telegraph article which said the survey involved 1,000 teens.

The research group was CyberSentinel.  They turn out to be Forensic Software Ltd:

Established in 2004, Forensic Software Limited specialises in developing, selling and supporting detection and protection software to ensure the appropriate use of IT resources by a community – whether it be within a commercial, public sector, educational or home environment.

The report spawned cascades of headlines about yet another hell-bound handbasket.  That’s what keeps newspapers and local TV in business, I suppose (to say nothing of Forensic Software Ltd).

The slightly skeptical probably wonder how 1,000 teenagers could rack up over an hour “looking up cosmetic surgery.”  My hunch is that’s a far smaller number spending a far greater amount of time–or, just possibly, doing something else once the relevant page loaded.

My own take:

  • Self-reporting varies.  On average, anyway.
  • The specifics for your own kids matter more than summaries from people hoping to sell you something.
  • It’s worth following links; context fits poorly into 140 characters.

Timeclock photo by viewerblur.