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
animated blood and gore
realistic blood and gore
animated blood (is this like dancing drops?)
mature sexual themes
strong sexual content
mild language (damn)
strong language (every vile word you can think of)
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.