Adventures in Public Speaking

There’s a post I REALLY want to do plus a confession I need to make (nothing spicy so don’t get all excited) but first, in response to comments here’s a short recap of my talk last night. I spoke to local elementary school parents and the title of my talk was, "Who’s Raising Your Children?" The general idea was that children between 0 and 6 years of age spend more time with electronic media than they do outdoors and it only gets worse from there.

In a recent report from Bureau of Labor Statistics

-the average adult man spends 14 minutes caring for children in his household as a primary activity per day. He spends 2 hours and 53 minutes watching television.
-mothers are only slightly better, clocking a whooping 36 minutes caring for children as a primary activity while watching 2 hours and 23 minutes of television.
-The Kaiser Foundation found that one third of all children under 6 have a TV in their bedroom, one in four their own DVD player, and 43% have their own video game in the bedroom.
-65% of children are growing up in a home where television is on more than half the time and for 36%- a third of all children, the television is on ALL THE TIME.
-when parents are shown video games 78% misjudge the ESRB rating (Electronic Software Ratings Board) believing that it has an older rating than the game actually does- in other words when they actually SEE a video game rated T for teen they believe it to be rated M (mature) or for adults only.
Parents don’t understand that the ratings are put on there by the people who are selling them.
-All games get rated by ESRB. Here is the entire list of content descriptors used by ESRB:
mild animated violence
mild realistic violence
comic mischief
animated violence
realistic violence
animated blood and gore
realistic blood and gore
animated blood (is this like dancing drops?)
realistic blood
suggestive themes
mature sexual themes
strong sexual content
mild language (damn)
strong language (every vile word you can think of)
gaming (gambling)
use of tobacco and alcohol
use of drugs
To my mind, this is like a content descriptor list for Hell rather than play time.

-one rather stunning statistic (in case the others aren’t) indicates that 27% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 clock 31 hours of interactive media time in every 24 hour period. Let’s hear it for multi-taskers!

Anyway, I presented all of this not as an indictment of them as parents or even of the American Way but rather as an illustration of the fact that today’s youngster will receive well over 70% of his information and knowledge from media. And then I asked them how they were planning to push themselves into the equation, especially when children of working parents average 35 hours per week in care out of the house, including childcare and school.  I asked them how they planned to manage this information flow. Could they squeeze a sense of family values, traditions and beliefs in between, sort of like commercial messages? Should they, quick, set up their own Xanga account in order to communicate with their children?

The parents were concerned and thoughtful in their discussion. A common theme was how to maintain some control and still move along with the flow. One mother said she was worried that if she restricted her child’s video and computer activities he would be viewed as "weird or socially unacceptable." I stopped myself from saying, "and the problem with that is…?" I did point out that some parents have had great success taking a stand, setting limits and bringing balance to the table. Another mom confessed that although she wasn’t nuts about the TV going in the car all the time she needed that drive time to make cell phone calls! This followed my opinion that drive time could be good conversation time since you have a captive audience.

As I usually do, I ended with an admonishment to spend more time reading to and with their children. It’s sort of lame- but then I never claimed to be an expert.

12 responses to “Adventures in Public Speaking

  1. Now I feel sooooooooooo much better. I have always had the guilt trip going for having to work and leaving Nyssa in daycare and after school care. No more.
    She has never had a TV in her room, at almost 20 she still doesn’t. Her TV as a young child was Sesame Street and the old classic cartoons and Spanky and Our Gang.
    At her daycare TV day was only once a week, other times they played in the gym, outside or with the dolls, blocks etc. In grade school aftercare the kids did their homework, played basketball and outside. Summer program included swimming lessons, art, roller skating, occasional trips to the movies and lots of outdoor play on the football field.
    At home after school we ate, I went over homework or she got it done, chores, piano practice (30 minutes), bath and bed by 8PM. We started reading stories together when she first came home, although until she was a year old it was mainly me reading to her. After that we would check out 20 books at a time from the library, shopping bags full. Goodnight Moon was a nightly standard every night. There wasn’t time for TV. In fact when it was on it was either the Weather Channel or QVC.
    The TV was never a big fight. Neither was the phone. In kindergarten we made the rule of “no phone calls from schoolmates on school nights, period.” Yes, believe it or not, little girls started calling each other in kindergarten.
    In the car we listened and sang to Raffi and Kids Sing Praise tapes and talked… this was before cell phones and car TV.
    After she went to bed at 8pm I would sew and smock until midnight, making her clothes.
    I would not have known what the rating things were. She never had a PlayStation and she never was interested in the one her dad got her one time so we sold it in the garage sale. She did have one of those hand held Sega games but she was in sixth grade then. It was mainly helpful on long airplane flights.
    So now I feel ever so much better. Thanks a bunch!!!!! 🙂

    PS: Would have loved to hear your talk! Would also have loved to hear you say….”so what’s wrong with that?”

  2. You should try teaching the children raised by media devices.

  3. Statistics were just as Hoss suspected — only more so.

    My favorite Oregon Governor, Tom McCall, prized his mother because she read to him EVERY DAY. So, in a cabinet meeting about the next two-year budget, the budget director said everything was done. And Tom said, “No, it isn’t. I want you to give a million dollars more to the State Library.” People who didn’t know Tom’s background gasped. But they did as they were told, and the Legislature (which loved Tom, too) happily went along with it.

  4. The only way I allowed a TV for the kids upstairs was NO cable and only educational or G rated movies with a moral theme. GASP, we don’t have videogames, as many of their friends do, GASP, we make our kids go, are you ready for this – OUTSIDE to play with the dogs, skates, scooters, and bikes. As for the computer, no internet for children, GASP, until they are in junior/high school and only in the LIVING room for all to see what is being uploaded or accessed.
    Parenting is hard enough, who needs more competition?
    Great post, honey.

  5. What on earth…? I too don’t have a tv in my room (wouldn’t want one, actually, as at the apt. I’m at now my roommie and I don’t have a tv at all and find that I only miss TCM, Classical Arts Showcase and Wild Discovery). I did have a laptop when I went to prep. school (required) but when it was bedtime I had to give it up.

    My mother (and teachers) had to worry more about me sneaking books into class and doing the old “hide-book-inside-other” trick, or skipping classes to read/practise my instruments or…well. *ahem* I was an angel otherwise. (Ok so there was the phone bill after I got my first bf. But besides that. Angel.)

    I already decided that if I ever have kids they won’t be having any of those gadgets in their room.
    Oh and I still remember those Kid Praise tapes. And Psalty the song book (I even saw him live).

  6. My husband and I are raising our children. They also have relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, elderly neighbors, pastor, marvelous teachers, and dear, close friends. Reading great classics, doing science experiments, attending Latin, French, Accelerated Math, History, Physics, Yoga, Art history, Music history, Socratic Seminar, and Logic classes at our Home Education Center, playing outdoors, practicing musical instruments, and helping with chores takes up their days. Evenings are for family dinners, homework, wrestling, sewing/knitting, reading aloud, reciting Bible memory work and poetry, and conversing. Computers are for research papers and a good movie is a rare treat. I don’t recall the Bureau ever polling us.

    For a minute there I thought your list of content discriptors was an overview of Hoss’s blog.

    You weren’t blogging from your mobile phone while speaking, were you?

  7. I’m so encouraged by these comments! But then, I know that I travel in a savvy circle of friends. Bonnie- you were so much on my mind when I said to the group last night that some parents are, indeed, opting out of the typical Generation Z profile. And I also pointed out to the parents that there are families who are circling the wagons, raising their own and those children are every bit and even more so, competitive in today’s global village. And they are welcomed and valued members of the village.

    I remember when I took a stand and said, “No! You will not now, not ever, “hang at the Mall.” Such a small victory should not be so hard a battle but I won and the ripple has blessed our pond ever since. Parents need to, above all, determine their own standards for the quality of the life of their family.

  8. I am well beyond the child-raising stage, but I am proud to say I was a SAHM, who read to her children, played games with them, played the organ for and sang with them daily. None of them had TV’s in their rooms, and the only gmaes they played were Life, Sorry, Monopoly and Scrabble. Granted, they are now 34 to 40, so video games (other than Atari) had not been invented. They used to beg me to go to work so they could be in a day-care afterschool program with their classmates. But since then, I have heard them say how much they appreciate that I was with them and available to them.

    Vicki, thanks for the kind comments about the flowers. I was surprised to see that Easy Street is in Ann Arbor. Might as well be on the moon for me….LOL

  9. Just dropped back in to say I beat you at the watershed post. Just finished mine. Hah!

  10. I see some very frightening trends in teenagers right now, and I see many of them every year. My own two are very different–one reads voraciously and the other would watch TV all the time if I would let her. I have not allowed video games, TV or computer in the bedroom and have at times felt very out of step with other parents. I absolutely loved all the conversations I have had(and still) have with my children in the car, or on road trips with the whole family. What a tragedy to have missed out on them!

  11. Those are frightening statistics.

    Our television watching doesn’t start until the kids are asleep. Our kids won’t have their own computers…..I wish ever, but in reality, until high school. We will probably never let them play computer games on a regular basis. We won’t even introduce these games to them.

    Our chldren will never have a television in their bedroom.

    Now, I just have to limit my blogging until after they’re asleep. That’s my struggle right now.

  12. OH Vicky, I’m so glad you made this speech! I wish more people would take those stats to heart and DO something about it!
    I wasn’t surprised by the stats, but only because I see them in action every day. Just about every kid we know has a tv in their room. Computers with internet access is common in the bedrooms as well. Over the years, we’ve had to battle the kids on that one issue: of not allowing TV or computer in their bedrooms. My oldest is 17 now, she’s had a tv in her room for a little over a year now. But it comes with a price: grades and behavior. The computer is in the family room.

    What I find the most sad to think about is the lack of time that parents spend with their kids today. I know so many parents who supposedly don’t have time to spend with them because they’re at the gym or doing something else with their lives, outside of work. Many of them joke about doing this deliberately to get away from their kids.
    While I know they’re joking, I often notice that those parents who do take the time and effort to do THINGS with their kids seem to have the closest families overall. And while I think it’s great to have a “life” and hobbies, it’s sad that a person who choses to have kids would spend so little time with them in the first place. Raising little humans is not for wimps! 😉

    Ahh well, it will be interesting to see what becomes of this generation, hmm? Hopefully they’ll turn out beautifully in spite of US! LOL

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