Friday, November 08, 2013

screen time...

As you can see in the image at left, I have an article about the AEP/SWEPCO powerline debacle in the current issue of Arkansas Battlefield Update. It can be read here: Powerlines could loom over PRNMP. We're still planning to stop this ugly thing from damaging  our community and our environment.

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.

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.
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.

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?

Make, fix and create...


  1. I suppose that one of the problems is, that it sometimes requires an effort from parents in order to get children away from various screens.

    If you just tell them to stop but don't offer them an alternative, most children will be reluctant to do so.

    If you offered the child an activity he/she would like, like tossing a ball or playing football / soccer, I know my children would gladly give up almost any TV show for that.
    But again it would require that I actually had to do something.

    Another thing could be that most children imitate grown ups. So if you are a bad role model for the child, then the outcome is likely something along those lines.

  2. Jonas, I think that most parents are relieved when their children seem engaged with something and are not demanding anything from them.

    I'm reminded of the story about Ghandi. A mother asked him to tell her son not to eat sugaar. He said, bring him back next week. When she did, Ghandi said to her son, "Don't eat sugar." "Why didn't you tell him that last week?" the mother asked. "Last week I was eating sugar." Ghandi replied. To be honest about TV and screen time, we have to take a few limits into our own lives in addition to asking our kids to change. That can make things very hard for parents.

  3. Doug - astounding. How can a kid fit 8 hours in during a day? ours, who turn 8 in 2 weeks, mostly lost interest in watching DVDs once they started school. Their reason: they'd have no time to play otherwise, school sucked up all their allotment of down time! I probably spend 2 hours a day at the screen and feel like I need to cut it down. But I never miss your posts. Thanks for keeping things sane.
    Peter Follansbee

  4. Peter, I can't understand how an 8 year old could be online that long either. I could see being out doors playing that long, or in the wood shop. Thank you for reading, for keeping your own kids interested in real life, and for what you do through your blog and your work to restore sanity to American culture.