Day in the life

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Kids spend only between 10 and 12 minutes a day reading, compared to more than an hour on "personal care," like getting dressed and bathing. That's the bad news. The good news: TV watching has fallen across the board (except for girls on the weekend), settling in around 90 minutes a day during the week and two-and-a-half hours a day on the weekends.

"Changes in American Children's Time, 1981-1997," the recently released study by Sandra Hofferth and Jack Sandberg, is a fascinating journey into how kids spend their days. It is part of the venerable, 30-year-long research project by the University of Michigan, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which includes on-going data on 8,700 U.S. families. The Hofferth study of 2,400 families, with 3,600 children, was conducted from March to December 1997; the results were compared to a less-comprehensive study of children's time done in 1981, also at the University of Michigan, which involved 620 families, and 490 children.

Below is a sampling of the results. Hofferth and her colleagues intend to update the work in 2001, following the initial cohort of kids as they grow up.

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