A majority of kids – 53 percent – in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey (from 2012) said their families had no rules for TV viewing. The remaining kids said they had rules, but just 20 percent said those guidelines were enforced most of the time. As if that’s not bad enough, the proportion of children with cable or satellite TV in their own room grew from 29 percent to 37 percent in the past 5 years. What does all this mean? Big trouble. TV is raising many children. And most of TV is not sending our children the right message. So if you want to remain in control of your children, as the parent, you must have rules that make sense.
Recently, there was a fellow in Oregon who purchased a new television. He was in for a big surprise. This particular TV inadvertently emitted the International Distress Signal and he soon had law enforcement banging at his front door.
As amusing as this story is, as a parent, you probably wish your television would emit signals whenever something came on that could harm your children. Brief TV ratings getting flashed during a program is not enough. You need more.
Here are a few suggestions. If your child has a TV in their room, consider taking it out. Initially, you’ll get some blow back from them, but it’s for their good. And your job as a parent is to protect them. Also, set a schedule and only allow your kids to watch certain, pre-approved programs at certain times in the family room. You may even want to record the shows so your children can fast-forward through the commercials (which can be objectionable as well). And finally, whatever TV time you decide is best for your family, try to have everyone watch shows together. You’ll personally be able to monitor programs and use them as object lessons and teachable moments.
What does modesty mean? That is a good question to ask your sons and daughters. It is especially good to address this if you have a pre-teen daughter. “All the girls at school are wearing these, why can’t I?”… “It’s my body; shouldn’t I decide what to put on it?” These questions reflect the timeless struggle between teen girls and their parents over the issue of modesty. This issue is more critical than ever in today’s society, where pre-teens are encouraged by the media and peers to act and dress years older than they actually are. Everywhere you look, young girls – whether in real life, on television, or in advertisements – are dressed in ways that emphasize their sexuality and, to be blunt, degrade the value of female character. This makes for a good conversation and you might be surprised on how much your daughters agree with you. They just need to hear it.
Sixth-graders who spent more time watching TV had a greater likelihood of consuming junk food and soda than did those who devoted an equal amount of time to playing video games or using the computer, University of Michigan researchers found. Two to six hours of screen time was associated with excess weight and higher blood pressure levels compared with less than an hour of electronic media use, the study found. The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting. Send your kids outside to play. Better yet, go outside with them!
Forty-five percent of children younger than 8 and 80% of those ages 14 to 15 exceeded the recommended screen time for electronic devices (less than 2 hours per day), an Australian study in BMC Public Health indicated. Researchers also found girls were more likely than boys to spend more time watching television, surfing the net and using social media according to a recent article from DailyRX.com. Studies have found that, when children spend prolonged lengths of time staring into screens, their physical and mental health may suffer. For instance, increased TV viewing over time has been linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety among teen girls.
People who work with children — parents, teachers, pediatricians, Sunday school teachers — are all uniformly observing that kids have shorter attention spans, require large amounts of super sensory input to hold attention, struggle with restlessness and distractability more, have very little patience, have difficult time sitting quietly and have less developed social and emotional coping skills that come from working with lots of live people. We can wait for a scientific study to prove it or we can as parents recognize the impact this new lifestyle is having on our children in an everyday manner and decide if this is the new type of kid we want to raise.
So, parents, what should we do? Take your kids outside in nature, go hiking or biking, or go to a park to get some fresh air and quality family time. Play sports and play games with your kids. Give teenagers gadget breaks. Do not bring gadgets to the dinner table, when playing outside or in nature. Parents have to lead by example. If they always look at their phone when with their children, then that is what their kids will do.
Too much TV can have a profoundly negative effect on your children’s developing minds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their findings show that higher levels of television viewing correlate with lower levels of academic performance; that the nature of TV stimulus may predispose some children to attention problems; and that mindless television shows may slow the development of the areas of the brain responsible for self control, moral judgment and attention.
This means that too much TV can cause physical changes in your kid’s brain! And this should worry any caring parent. So if your children are watching too much television, turn it off. Hand them a book, and by doing so, you will turn on their minds.
Did you know that more people have heard the Christmas story from Linus, the character in Peanuts, than from anybody else. If you want to watch it, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CojUP5nRidA and notice that he puts aside his ever-present security blanket… the only time in the comic strip he ever does so.