“Only 51% of pre-school children are read to on a daily basis, a “steep decline” from 69% five years ago.”
“Apple’s Tim Cook recently said he would not want his nephew on a social network, while child health experts wrote to Facebook warning excessive use of digital devices and social media “is harmful to children and teens”.”
There are several studies you can read online about this topic. Common Sense and Childwise both compose annual reports that examine children and young people’s media consumption, purchasing habits, and other social issues. Needless to say, these reports provide an inside look at the negative effects of too much media consumption.
The 2017 Common Sense report says that children up to 8 years old spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes per day watching “screen media”. Total screen time has increased an average of 24 minutes per day. The reports says that children are watching TV less, using computers less, and playing fewer video games. However, children’s time spent on mobile phones has increased quite a bit, thus making up the difference and increasing total screen time per day.
The 2015 Common Sense report provides data on children ages 8 to 12 years old. This groups average daily screen time in 2015 was 4 hours and 36 minutes. Teens to early twenties spent an average of 4 hours and 30 minutes per day utilizing “screen media”, and 6 hours per day with all types of media. This included reading and listening to music.
*I’ll include the link to the 2017 Common Sense report at the bottom.
Why is this? Are our children not being challenged enough? Are they not being engaged enough? Why do children so easily turn to screen time for entertainment? Are they learning this from us, their parents?
We asked our kids why they like to play games on the phone, or watch shows on our tablet or TV. Their answer was pure and simple: “Because it’s fun.” That pretty much sums up a child’s perspective in our opinion. While children are younger, they want to do things that are fun and that keep them engaged. As they get older they become more aware of WHY they are doing things. Maybe it is fun, maybe they do it because they’re bored. The older they get, the more reasons they will have to do something.
From a parent’s perspective, we too easily use screen time as a temporary babysitter. We need breaks, or we’re trying to accomplish tasks around the home, or at the grocery store, and the kids are perhaps being too loud. Simple answer: give them our cell phone. “Kids, watch a show, or play a game!” Our immediate thoughts are, “Ok, this will buy me some time to get this other stuff done”, or “this should keep them more quite for a little while”.
Our opinion on this matter is simple in understanding, by difficult in practice. We need to find more ways to engage our children, that does not involve screens or technology. We need to sit down with our families, and meaningful conversations about the role that ‘screen time entertainment’ will have in our daily lives. We need to discuss ways to engage one another on a more regular and meaningful basis. We need to begin teaching ourselves new habits when it comes to recognizing when our children are bored, and immediately know how we can best engage them and occupy their time in a productive manner.
This is only day 3 in our 7-day Tech Detox, and already we are learning ways to better interact with and engage our children when they seem bored or are unoccupied. We want their activities to be fruitful, and benefit them in some way. We’ve realized when we ourselves are not in front of a screen, or in the middle of a show, we are more likely to recognize when our kids need attention, and we will easily go outside with them, rather than give them the lame excuse of “when the show is over.”
So far our discussion as of day 3 has been leaning towards keeping the TV out of the living room. Right now we have it covered up in the bedroom facing a wall. We are thinking this may be the best place for it temporarily, until we can determine the most beneficial use for it in our family’s daily lives. The next few days will definitely provide more intel on this matter.
OUR CHALLENGES TO YOU!!!
- Sit down and talk with your family about the role that ‘Screen Time’ plays in your lives. Is it being used in a beneficial manner, or as a tool for distraction?
- For one day, don’t let your children watch any media, and try limiting your cell phone use to only phone calls, texts, and emails. Just for one day. While you’re doing this, observe your children’s behavior, and write down the activities you are doing with them that occupy everyone’s time in a beneficial way.
Thanks for reading our blog today! Check back tomorrow for an update on Day #4! You can also watch our daily videos on our youtube channel!
CommonSense Report: https://goo.gl/VxEb4V