Common Sense Media lauded a study on kids and media by the Kaiser Family Foundation, with the sobering conclusions that:
- Kids are using more media, and have discovered the time dilation effect that I’ve been searching for, packing over 10 hours of effective media use into 7 hours, via multitasking
- Preteens (ages 8-12) stand out for their heavy usage
- Kids with heavy usage have lower grades and happiness levels
The best part, though, is that parents matter! Parents who impose limits on media use, and don’t have TV’s in the bedroom or on as background noise, are successful in limiting the amount of exposure of their kids. With helpful tips on how to set the parental controls on your Nintendo DSi, and your iPhone, CSM is full of help for parents wanting to limit access.
What does this have to do with books? Er, nothing.
There are wonderful things to be found in this digital age, and children today are digital natives that will find all the best, and worst, uses for it. As with anything else, including books (aha! there it is!), they need parental guidance. My kids are well aware of blogging, websites, online games and the like. But they also know that Mom is keeping an eagle eye on them. Or at least a hawk eye. Some days it’s a half-blind gopher eye, but at least I’m trying!
And that’s part of the point. Note, the study didn’t say “Only parents who achieve parental perfection, or ban all use of the television and mobile devices from infancy, will shelter their children from the evils of the interwebs.” It said, “Parents that impose limits . . .” i.e. those that make an effort, are the ones with the happier kids that also do well in school.
In the Quinn household, the boys have their own computer, so they have to “take turns.” Nevermind that if Dark Omen is playing Civilization IV (which I heartily recommend, people, you would not BELIEVE the things your kids will learn from that game! Major economic systems, governmental types . . .), Worm Burner plays as well. Just ignore the fact that all three are huddled around, playing 2-player LEGO Star Wars. They have to take turns. And each turn only lasts 30 minutes, so we have an automatic reset that interrupts the game, and at least some of the players change seats. We turn the TV off when the show is done, and I’ve banned any kind of gaming system from the house. My husband still hasn’t really forgiven me for that one, but I just don’t need that kind of complication in my life!
So, lovely readers, what strategies do you use to limit access to screen time in your house? Because in this game, apparently, how much you try really does seem to count.