The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines for media time for kids. These guidelines will be a shock to most parents and will likely be ignored to the detriment of most children in the US.
The average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media consumption daily, according to the authors of the AAP statement. More than three quarters of teenagers have cell phones, and teens ages 13 to 17 send an average of 3,364 texts per month.The new guidelines suggest no more than 2 hours of screen time for most kids, no television or computers in children's bedrooms, and no TV at all for children under two years old. Those stringent guidelines would be a major challenge for most parents to meet. Parents watch their kids manipulating small screens and think they've given them their best by providing the latest technological devices. But what their children actually need most is to be purposefully deprived of these devices and be given tools that offer tangible creativity.
Several studies have linked high media consumption with poor health outcomes. For example, children with TVs in their bedrooms are more likely to be obese.
Television and technological help children adapt to boredom, emptiness and a life of doing nothing of significance. Shop time is far more instructive, and can lead to a more active life. It is certainly true that computers are powerful tools, but that's all that they are. Without the more practical tools to lead children into active lives, our children and our civilization will suffer tragic consequences. A sense of powerlessness will likely arise. In fact, you may be feeling that already.
The other day, a freight company returned the objects from my show in Tulsa, and the driver complained that the world was full of folks who were content doing nothing and simply drawing benefits from social services like food stamps. But between media consumption that keeps children entertained and schooling that forces children to adapt to circumstances of bodily stillness and intellectual complaisance, we've left then ill prepared for productive life. What else could we reasonably expect?
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