Kids and their iPods:Changing the way Children Listen

We’re not used to really big numbers in music teaching and 300 million is a really big number! It’s the number of iPods that have been sold since their launch about 10 years ago. A game changing bit of technology: not least because, through iTunes, they’re now connected to a catalogue of some 28 million tracks. And, of course, while iPods are still the most popular portable media player, they are far from being alone: Creative ZEN, Sony Walkman, Philips, and Archos, to name a few. Indeed, many cell-phones now work as excellent MP3 players.

Big changes
So what has this decade of change meant for the kids in your class? Well, as you’ve probably noticed, the age that kids get their iPods has started to decrease. In the US, nearly one third of children between six and ten have a portable media player, as reported by the NPD group. And this survey is supported by work from C+R Research. They indicate an even bigger proportion, that over half of 8- to 9-year- olds now have portable music players.

More music?
So, has this changed how much kids listen to music? Yes, is the short answer.Of course,watching TV is still the most popular activity. But listening to music is a very close second; and, because of MP3 players, they’re doing even more of it.

In 1999, in the US, 8- to 18-year-olds listened to, on average, 1 hour and 48 minutes of music each day. Five years later, this hadn’t really changed. Well, it had, in fact, dropped by a few minutes. But, by 2009, it had risen to 2½ hours, an incredible increase of ¾ of an hour each day. And the reason – portable media players.

What has remained constant though, is the rise of music-listening during childhood. While an 8- to 10-year-old averages just over an hour of listening; for 15- to 18-year-olds they’re managing to fit in more than three hours a day. And, for the younger group, they’re listening via a portable player for about twenty minutes of that, while the older kids are plugged in to theirs for more than an hour and twenty minutes.

Gender equality
One change that I don’t think anyone would have predicted with the rise of iPod popularity, is that it’s reducing the gap between the listening done by girls and that done by boys. Over the decade, girls have listened to more music on the radio and they’ve played their CDs more. But boys love their MP3 players just as much as the girls. Across the ages, both genders spend over forty minutes a day listening to their downloaded tracks.

Soundtrack to life
Of course, it’s the portability of iPod-like devices that has allowed them to become the soundtrack to regular life. Nearly 75% of high school kids are listening to music while they’re busy doing something else. Well, at least ‘claiming’ that they are busy doing something else!

But there’s more
Let’s not forget the sharing aspect of an MP3 player: ear-buds handed round; best friends daisy-chained together with an ear-piece each. Or the exponential increase in diversity, quantity and accessibility of music sitting in the pockets, pencil cases and school bags of our classes. As something that was pretty important to their lives a decade ago, they’re now devoting even more time to music. So the evidence, it seems, shows that the iPod is changing the way our children are listening to music. Which leaves the question: is more always better?


1 Comment

  • By Jennifer Reply

    Weather or not more music listening on ipods helps children improve academically all depends on the type of music they listen to.

    There have been studies shown of the benefits of listening to classical music, such as Handel’s Water Music, or research to show what happens to the brain from listening to such music as heavy metal. I also believe that the type of music affects behavior, because of the power that music has on the choices that one makes.

    This knowledge comes from my own experiences in listening to good, inspiring music, and from going to or listening to such seminares as “First There Was Music,” by Michael Ballam and Melissa Davis in the year 2000. Arizona Brain Arts, Inc. was part of this presentation, in hopes to perserve the arts in the public schools.

    Feel free to also watch a wonderful music devotional by Michael Ballam done in 1994, entitled, “Developing Divine Power.”

    Thank you.

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