Thank God I don’t have kids. Reports the Washington Post:
Youth are spending more time with nearly every form of media than ever, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. They spend more hours on the computer, in front of television, playing video games, texting and listening to music than an adult spends full-time at work.
The only media young people aren’t soaking up, the study says, are newspapers, magazines and other print publications.
Youth spend more than 7 1/2 hours a day using electronic media, or more than 53 hours a week, the 10-year study says. “And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours.”
The only cheerful news, from this writer’s very selfish perspective, is that they devote 38 minutes a day to print reading — a decrease of only five minutes from a decade earlier.
Here are a few reasons I find this depressing as hell:
1) Stunted social skills. I hear this from parents and teachers and even college professors — kids who relate to others primarily or exclusively through media, and not face to face, lack the basic and essential education in how to behave socially and professionally. I see it. They don’t look you in the eye, can’t be bothered observing your body language or tone, don’t get the importance of tact, diplomacy or charm. Good luck to ‘em.
2) The natural or physical world is becoming an abstraction. The phenomenon isn’t new, but what a joke — as we’re all supposed to be freaking out about global warming and saving the planet, we’re raising kids who never go outdoors! Or at least, never without their digital pacifiers, unable to trade the tiny plastic screen for the real and real-time (i.e. slow and demanding of focused attention) beauties of a sunset or a flock of birds in flight or the sight of a distant mountain or river.
Many kids are raised to be terrified of the outdoors, not seeing the woods and ravines and beaches as something cool and intriguing to be explored but to be ignored. There’s even a name for this — Nature Deficit Disorder. How can anyone care deeply about “the environment” if they don’t know a thing about it firsthand?
3) Obesity and poor health. Texting for hours every day might strengthen your thumbs, but not much else.
Does this trend bother you? What, if anything, are you doing about it? What, if anything, should we do as a society?