My passion is helping families learn how to manage, moderate and live with the deluge of media in our lives. I could not believe it yesterday when I looked on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and one of the cover stories was, "Children Swimming in Media." http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/ct-met-0120-youth-media-20100119,0,4394294.story The stats were fascinating and extremely overwhelming to me. Take a look at the article. There is also another version in the New York Times cleverly titled, "If Your Kids are Awake They are Probably Online". http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html?scp=1&sq=kaiser&st=cse
The Kaiser Foundation does a great job showing us the shocking data in words, graphs, charts and pictures. It looks like in 2004 children averaged about 6 hours 21 min. of screen time a day and the researcher thought that we the reached the peak. There is simply NO MORE TIME IN THE DAY. But alas somehow children between 8-18 have found another 1 hr. 17 minutes on average, bringing the number to a staggering 7hours38 minutes per day. The articles can give you all the statistical information, but what struck me from the article I read was that title "Children Swimming In Media".
When we are pregnant with our precious babies all we can think of is how can we keep them safe. Often we wake up in the night worrying about the outlet we forgot to plug, or the cabinet that is easy to crawl and open, or the toilet seat someone left up. We hire safety people to child proof our house. We spend hundreds of dollars buying equipment to safety proof our homes. We all become handymen installing devices throughout our homes. We sleep a little bit easier for awhile. Then the children start to crawl or walk and a whole new set of safety features need to be added. We worry about what our kids our eating and drinking. We possibly grow our own vegatables, buy food without pesticides, milk without growth hormones and the list continues. We take our toddler to the beach on a sunny day and we discover it is closed because there is too much bacteria in the water. We are outraged and learn what we can do to clean up our beaches, so our precious children can be safe. Yet, we allow our children to literally swim in media. They are swimming with monsters, wars, guns, strangers, porn. I could list a million more things. For the most part, they are in the deep end without a lifeguard.
The informative article about this 2009 study on media usage in children is simply that, very informative. What we now have to do is figure out how to manage screen times in our families. I know that this is a media age and kids have to learn how to navigate some of it, but as parents it is our duty, our pledge for safety that we must pay closer attention to the use of media in our homes. Tomorrow we will give some practical tips on managing the media in your homes.