Time To Surgically Detach Your Kids From The Screen? Study Finds They Spend 7.5 Hours A Day There

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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?

4 thoughts on “Time To Surgically Detach Your Kids From The Screen? Study Finds They Spend 7.5 Hours A Day There

  1. Pingback: Who should stop the bullying | Parenting help in Texas

  2. mathewthomas

    Reason #4 to find this depressing: Moronification (a.k.a. “dumbass-ification”) of children. To give this a bit of perspective, consider the following letter:

    “My Dear Aunt Doe,
    We are having a very early Spring and the wild flowers are beginning to come up in the woods. My pony Debbby is well and I rode 12 miles today with Papa and we are going to ride to Algonac as we did last summer. I am to have a little farm and chicken house of my own. I hope you and Uncle Will will come home soon. Please tell Uncle Will that if he has any foreign stamps I should like to have them, as I have begun to make a collection.
    Papa is going to buy a cutter that will go by Naphtha and we are going to sail in it at Campobello and here. With much love and many kisses to you both.
    I am your affectionate nephew.


    This letter was written in 1891 by 9 year old Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I would contend that our culture of electronic “media” (read: incoherent baby speak) is incapable of producing 9 year olds (or adults) capable of such language.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    mathew, while I don’t have kids of my own, common sense would suggest that any skills you can’t be bothered developing — paying focused attention to complex and challenging material (no, not a Wii game or Xbox) — won’t magically show up one day because you might need them for high school or college or work. I wonder how any parents, or teachers, can counter this appalling trend.

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