By Wendy Rice, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist
How much is too much?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, today’s children spend more than 7.5 hours a day with media. That’s more than many of them spend in school and it leads me to wonder…
What are they being exposed to?
The scary answer is – EVERYTHING!
Children today are becoming too savvy and while understanding technology and utilizing it for education, self expression, and even some play is good, too much can have detrimental effects later in life.
In a study conducted in 2009 by the University of Minnesota it was found that children who watch more TV than their peers during middle and high school years have less healthy diets five years later.
Something important to note is that media exposure is not limited to the television. It encompasses all media outlets including smart phones, computers, handheld gaming devices, iPods, iPads and other tablets, websites, and much more.
AND, not only can too much media hinder your child’s health, but it also impacts their self-esteem and self-worth, too.
But don’t panic and get rid of all the electronics in the house!
You can help your children reduce their media overload. A media diet may be just what the doctor ordered.
Here are a few tips:
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about what they are seeing in the media. Have an open dialogue on what is being shown and what they are learning from it.
- Set a healthy media dosage example. Show your children ‘proper’ media usage. For example, don’t use your cell phone while driving or at the dinner table. Children learn what the norm is through watching you.
- Stick to time limits. Time limits are key to avoiding media overload
- Take the TV and other forms of media out of the bedroom.
- Consider mornings a “no screen time” part of the day for everyone. Try it out for a week and decide if the mood in your household improves. It will take discipline and some creativity on the part of the adults but in the end, you may never go back!
And, I can’t say this enough. PLEASE monitor what your children are doing online. Install software on ALL of your children’s devices so that if you have concerns, you can check where they are going and what they are seeing. Remember, letting your children roam free online is like setting them loose in Grand Central Station and telling them that it is okay to get on any train, talk to any person or go out any door that looks appealing to them!
This is the link to the actual study: http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/mh012010presentl.pdf
How much do you think is “enough” when it comes to children and media?