According to a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8-18 spend on average 7 hours and 11 minutes daily using electronic media devices for entertainment purposes—which over the course of a year amounts to more than four times the number of hours spent in school!
And that’s not even counting cell phone calls and texting.
Since kids multitask much of the time, total media consumption is 10 hours and 7 minutes daily!
Excessive use of electronics is permanently damaging our children’s lives at a time when their social, emotional, and cognitive development is most critical. If you’re like many parents today, you’re familiar with the resulting fallout: grades suffering in school, family members ignored, and kids increasingly unable to make important decisions.
With this alarming trend starting so early in our children’s lives, how can you as a parent lead your child to enjoy a fruitful, productive childhood.
Real life example. I see an alarming number of young drivers AND adults with the eyes on their smart phones, not on the lurking dangers of the road. And I have been guilty of the same.
I’m reminded that my own kids are watching me. Am I texting while driving? When I come home from work, do I leave my phone in my pocket or am I rechecking my email while they beg for my attention?
This technology opens our communication with people on the other side of the world, at the expense of those next door, or … at our own dinner table.
#1 Start early with healthy habits
A recent study reported that “neural pathway formation in children who overuse technology is ‘short-circuiting’ the frontal cortex, permanently altering the way children think and behave, creating unimaginable problems for the education and penal systems.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has advocated the following for years:
- Children should watch no more than one to two hours of quality TV or videos daily.
- Children under age two should not watch TV.
- Parents should not allow TV use in children’s rooms.
- Children should not watch TV while doing homework.
Consider regulating use of other electronic media as well. Remember, it’s okay to lay down rules. You are the parent doing this for their well-being!
The earlier you provide boundaries for your children, the more easily they accept them as normal, and the more you can provide opportunities for a positive outcome.
#2. Don’t just regulate media—replace with positive alternatives.
With about 9% of our nation’s kids “addicted” to playing video games, resulting in underdeveloped social skills, it’s time we heed the experts reminding us that creative, social childhood play is crucial for their development.
Sports and playing board games with family or friends are both fun, easy ways to strengthen your child socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
#3. Take an interest in your child’s activities.
When 4-6 year olds were asked whether they would rather watch TV or spend time with their dad, 54% said they would rather watch TV! Is it possible that many kids today are more interested in engaging with media in part because parents are not showing the interest they could in their kids’ lives?
Children whose parents are actively involved in their schooling, however, are
- less likely to experience social or behavior problems;
- more likely to become accomplished and achieve better grades.
In addition to helping at your child’s school, as a parent you can
- create a home environment conduce to learning;
- provide access to books and other learning materials;
- talk to your children about school;
- give encouragement and homework help as needed.
It’s insights like these that you can use to protect your family.
This generation is overwhelmed with media, an epidemic spawning an array of damaging habits.
To help families, ChessHouse commissioned extensive research into the challenges facing them today and along the way discovered strategic steps some families are taking to overcome these trends.
A portion of this research that includes some startling revelations is available free upon request through the form provided here: