April 21, 2009

Kids and Media Addiciton

Here's some data that should be a wake up call:
  • By the time a child is eighteen years old, he or she will witness on television (with average viewing time) 200,000 acts of violence including 40,000 murders (Huston, et al, 1992).

  • Children, ages 8 to 18, spend more time (44.5 hours per week - 6 1/2 hours daily) in front of computer, television, and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005).

This is just a small taste of what you can learn on the website of the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF). They say that at a time in their lives when adolescents should be developing life-sustaining patterns of self-discipline, the ability to delay gratification, perseverance, imagination, and respect, too much exposure to various forms of media results in the adoption the values of more, easy, fast, fun, violence and disrespect. In addition, there is a ton of evidence that demonstrates that kids who watch significant amounts of television and movie violence are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, attitudes and values.

The National Institute on Media and the Family has an initiative they call Through-U - Families Become MediaWise, which offers materials, training kits, suggestions for non-media activities, research... and more for those who want to explore these ideas for groups of children or in a family setting. I think this would be especially powerful for a group of young males.

On the website of an organization called TrashYour TV!, there's a 20 question assessment to test a teen's degree of "media addiction." Their assessment is enlightening for ALL of us and it's another organization with a lot to say about the role of TV, video games, and computers in kids lives.

If you have had any experience with these kinds of programs, either formal or the policies in your own home, please tell us about it in the comments section of this post. We do need an army of motivated adults to set good examples and help kids become aware of the world of options that exist when they walk away from a screen.

1 comment:

  1. Tim W.8:14 AM

    Shocking and sobering! Glad I (briefly) address issues of male violence in my gender equity talks in schools.


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