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« on: February 04, 2010, 06:23:46 PM »

The following was included in an email newsletter that I get from our Archdiocese Youth Office:
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Media Wake-Up Call for Parents
Janice Shaw Crouse

Friday, January 29, 2010

I recently attended a middle school band concert. To my amazement, at least one third of the children performing in the various bands sat using their cell phones when not on stage. Astoundingly, many of these pre-teens had expensive sophisticated smartphones that enabled them to browse the Internet as well as text friends. I even noted some youths texting on stage when their instruments were not part of the performance. When it comes to electronic media, things are changing so fast that parents are lagging behind.  Apparently, so too are band directors, teachers and school administrators.

In my newly-released book, Children at Risk, I note, “Today’s children and youth live in an environment inundated by endlessly proliferating types of media.”  Some experts call it a “tsunami of media;” others call it “media clutter.” A new study produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation –– whose studies are among the largest and most comprehensive information available about media use among American youth –– reports that “most youth say they have no rules about how much time they can spend with TV, video games or computers.”  As a result, daily media use by the nation’s 8-to-18-year-olds has increased dramatically over the past five years.  Children and teens now spend the equivalent of a day’s work using their electronic devices. They are “connected” to electronic media an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes and by their common use of “media multitasking” (watching television or playing video games while texting or listening to music on an iPod) they “actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours.” Most alarming, seven in ten young people have a TV in their bedroom and over half have a video game console in their room.

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to realize that these youths are spending more time with media than in any other of their daily activities. Only three in ten of these youngsters have rules regarding their use of media. Often those who set rules, according to their children, fail to enforce them. Not surprisingly, the children of those parents who set rules spend “nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.”

Parents should not be surprised at the Kaiser report; they have saturated their homes with electronic media. The report reveals that the typical American home has “an average of 3.8 televisions, 2.8 DVD or VCR players, 1digital video recorder, 2.2 CD players, 2.5 radios, 2 computers, and 2.3 console video game players.” In addition, the television is on in many homes virtually every waking hour –– whether anyone is watching or not.

Not surprisingly, the report indicates that those youths who spend the most time connected to media have lower grades. Social networking produces “lots of friends,” but those youths who are highly connected to media have lower levels of personal happiness and contentment. And, it should be noted, that “the relationship between media exposure and personal contentment withstands controls for other possibly relevant factors such as age, gender, race, parent education, and single vs. two-parent households.”

In short, the Kaiser report is a wake-up call for parents that the digital revolution should carry warning signs. Too much of even good things can be very bad; too many of the nation’s youths are hooked on media –– they connect first thing in the morning and they don’t disconnect until parents insist on lights out.

In Children at Risk, I note that six prominent medical groups (American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association) are united in warning parents about the harms to children of too much media. The Federal Trade Commission found that 80 percent of the R-rated movies that they studied were marketed (via all the media that youths use) to children under seventeen and the same is true of music and video games. The National Institutes of Health and Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocacy group, is urging parents to “turn off the TV” because of 30-years of research indicating a correlation between greater media exposure and adverse health outcomes for children, including drug/alcohol use, childhood obesity, sexual behavior and low academic achievement.

The Brookings Institution devoted an entire issue of their journal The Future of Children to “Children and the Electronic Media.” They argued for greater pressure on the media industry from parents and other concerned members of the public. They asked, “Do we (leave) the nation’s youth to the wiles of Madison Avenue, the purveyors of smut and violence, and Internet Predators?”

It is important, no, it is imperative for parents to educate themselves and know more about programming, rating systems, and current technology in order to help their children make reasoned, deliberate choices regarding their use of media.  It is up to parents and other responsible adults to connect with today’s youth where they are, “riding the airwaves,” in order to teach them to  understand when negative messages are being aimed at them and offer them “positive messages that compete with and offer attractive alternatives to the negative, unhealthful, or illegal messages that others offer.  This effort is not optional.  It is an essential part of the task we face in rebuilding the family into the safe haven that it was meant to be for our children.

Copyright © 2010 Salem Web Network.
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2010, 02:25:47 PM »

Thank you for sharing this with us. I now have two children and this is the kind of stuff we need to know. Thanks again!
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2010, 02:51:42 PM »

Thank you for posting this. My "child" is 25 and married, so she is not that big of a concern of mine as far as cell phones go. But I have a lot of freshmen and sophomore students, 18-19, total kids, who use cell phones all the time. It's terrible. They are losing even those minimal writing skills they got in their secondary school. Very few are able to produce regular complete sentences.
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2010, 02:55:03 PM »

And here I sit on the internet, wasting hours reading these threads.  Oh, the irony.
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2010, 06:25:30 PM »

I'm a poster child of the electronic age. I've been playing video games and been computer literate since I was barely out of diapers. I can vouch for the observations of the author. I was a lazy kid who was more engrossed with a television show or a computer game than the people around me. My social skills were adequate, but I never had a big group of friends, and even up to now my closes friends are on the internet. I even first met my wife through the internet.

My parents are great and have raised my sisters and I well, but when I become a parent I will not be as soft as they were with me. Technology is a great thing with great benefits, but I know I suffered greatly from using it as a social, mental and emotional crutch for years. I don't want my kids having to deal with such issues in their 20s as I am.
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2010, 06:33:05 PM »

I'm a poster child of the electronic age. I've been playing video games and been computer literate since I was barely out of diapers. I can vouch for the observations of the author. I was a lazy kid who was more engrossed with a television show or a computer game than the people around me. My social skills were adequate, but I never had a big group of friends, and even up to now my closes friends are on the internet. I even first met my wife through the internet.

My parents are great and have raised my sisters and I well, but when I become a parent I will not be as soft as they were with me. Technology is a great thing with great benefits, but I know I suffered greatly from using it as a social, mental and emotional crutch for years. I don't want my kids having to deal with such issues in their 20s as I am.

Well, some of us are just introverted anyway.  I'm sure my youth would have been just as isolated without technology.  I might be smarter if I hadn't wasted all of those hours on Final Fantasy games as a kid, but here I am and I'm doing just fine.  I like being an introvert.
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2010, 07:10:11 PM »

I'm a poster child of the electronic age. I've been playing video games and been computer literate since I was barely out of diapers. I can vouch for the observations of the author. I was a lazy kid who was more engrossed with a television show or a computer game than the people around me. My social skills were adequate, but I never had a big group of friends, and even up to now my closes friends are on the internet. I even first met my wife through the internet.

My parents are great and have raised my sisters and I well, but when I become a parent I will not be as soft as they were with me. Technology is a great thing with great benefits, but I know I suffered greatly from using it as a social, mental and emotional crutch for years. I don't want my kids having to deal with such issues in their 20s as I am.

Well, some of us are just introverted anyway.  I'm sure my youth would have been just as isolated without technology.  I might be smarter if I hadn't wasted all of those hours on Final Fantasy games as a kid, but here I am and I'm doing just fine.  I like being an introvert.

Yeah. Some people enjoy it. To me, it always felt unnatural, but I took the quick road to social interaction, as well as amassing dozens of games and email addresses in the process  Cheesy
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2010, 07:24:46 PM »

I think it's all so very sad, but then I'm a luddite to the core (despite hours of internet use-oh, the irony). Never owned a cellphone until three years ago and never use it at all these days. Have never texted, played video games, and very seldom ever watched TV, and have no intentions of starting any of these activities anytime soon. Why does everyone have to conform to pop culture?
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2010, 09:10:17 PM »

I think it's all so very sad, but then I'm a luddite to the core (despite hours of internet use-oh, the irony). Never owned a cellphone until three years ago and never use it at all these days. Have never texted, played video games, and very seldom ever watched TV, and have no intentions of starting any of these activities anytime soon. Why does everyone have to conform to pop culture?

Attention. Social acceptance. Addiction.

I'm naturally attracted to the stuff. I took tons of computer and electronic interfacing classes in high school and went to college for television production. But I also hate cities and want to have a home in the middle of some kind of nowhere.
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2010, 11:45:29 AM »

I grew up on video games and tv and electronics and Final Fantasy 7 which took me 50 hours to beat. Video games, TV, and electronics aren't bad when parents allow them in moderation, they can even be helpful to development. For example, playing FF7 taught me how to think ahead and analyze my next move. There were also puzzles which needed to be solved along the way which helped to develop my critical thinking skills. Now I agree that allowing your child to be plastered to these devices is completely wrong, but being completely against them is not necessarily a good thing either. The problem is that many parents take a half hearted approach to raising their children and don't tell them TV or Video games AFTER you finish your homework and read X pages of this book, or newspaper, or whatever. That I think is the key to breaking the unending dependence on technology.

-Nick
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2010, 03:53:18 PM »

Quote
Attention. Social acceptance. Addiction.

Very sad, and all reasons to stay away from them. People need to be taught to have inner strength and depth of character-not encouraged to narcissistically seek out attention, social acceptance and feed addiction. These are all things that true christianity teaches against.
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2010, 09:02:17 PM »

Quote
Now I agree that allowing your child to be plastered to these devices is completely wrong, but being completely against them is not necessarily a good thing either. The problem is that many parents take a half hearted approach to raising their children and don't tell them TV or Video games AFTER you finish your homework and read X pages of this book, or newspaper, or whatever. That I think is the key to breaking the unending dependence on technology.

Ditto. There are many benefits to games, the net and TV. There are tons of relevant and wholesome information you can get on the net, like this site for instance. There are many, many worthy stories of good morality vs evil through video games (Assassin's Creed II has the main character graceful in his vengeance and compassionate to almost everyone). But the addiction is real, I've experienced it and making sure your kids know that its entertainment, not life, is a big step in preventing the addiction from rooting.

Quote
Very sad, and all reasons to stay away from them. People need to be taught to have inner strength and depth of character-not encouraged to narcissistically seek out attention, social acceptance and feed addiction. These are all things that true christianity teaches against.

I personally believe exposing them to the proper uses of these things would be more beneficial. Like nick said, these things aren't bad on their own, but like almost everything else in modern times moderation of use is the key. Unless our leaders totally mess up the economy and plunge us into a new dark age, our children will need to at least have some kind of electronic literacy to function in today's world. A firm hand and an understanding heart can go a long way.
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