I heard about this yesterday and as a parent of a Tween and a Teenager, I absolutely couldn’t wait to comment on this.
From the NY Times:
The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones. And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours. The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades. Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.” While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school. The study could not say whether the media use causes problems, or, rather, whether troubled youths turn to heavy media use.
…On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them. …The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and “tweens,” or those ages 11 to 14.
My kids do spend some quality time with us, be it between Facebook and texting or checking email (multiple accounts), or playing on-line games, or playing DS, or playing on the iPhone..
As a parent, it is our responsibility to not reward our children when they turn to technology instead of the family, but to encourage them to communicate with us as opposed to the new “boob tube” their on-line media connectivity.
We (parents) are the ones that give the kids all the devices that enable them to spend all their waking (non-school) hours on them.. Any idea on what we can do to reduce this?
- Limit usage by establishing hours of use.. I’m sure this is easier said than done. I have not had much success with this.
- Establish family time – I don’t mean dinner time.. I mean be it 1/2 hour or one hour, this is a time, where you sit and talk.. We do this in our house every day.. I love to see my kids just sit there and say nothing much.
- Sign Contracts of Use: Sign a contract with your child on usage limits of technology. I’ve tried this and it works about 25% of the time..
- Reward a child with technology only when they deserve it: I know this is rather a reckless statement. Which parent doesn’t want to give their child a cell phone or a Wii or a computer to do “schoolwork” or for “entertainment”?. This is very hard to implent in the technology era..
Do you have any suggestions?