Is Your Child Engrossed in Media 53 hours/week?

children engrossed by media

A new study put out by Kaiser Family Services tells us that children are using media like TV, music, and internet social media more than 7.5 hours a day—that comes to an average of 53 hours a week of mostly passive experience! Yes, they text, but what kind of thought goes into texting or tweeting?  Are their brains really processing and analyzing and digesting new information?  Unfortunately, no.

brain processingUsing the brain fully requires a complete circuit—IN + PROCESSING-> OUT.  It’s the PROCESSING and the OUT that’s missing. The brains of this generation are not learning to think deeply or express thoughts in an articulate and reasoned way.  Thoughts are being expressed rapidly without reflection, and compressed into short sentences requiring the shallowest of thinking, the paltriest use of language.  Fewer connections are made in the brain, and there is little growth.  This lack of neural challenge occurs during a period of time when young brains should be developing and laying down millions of connective nerve pathways that will serve for a lifetime.

How many youngsters of this American generation could write a diary like Anne Frank, or letters like John Adams? Teachers in middle school, high school and college these days despair of getting their students to write even a cogent paragraph.

child writingWriting should start in kindergarten and be required across the curriculum all the way through school. And writing should be encouraged and praised by parents at home. Putting words on paper (or screen) makes your thoughts visible.  It creates a space for them to sit while you think about what you’ve said.  There may be another way to say them that will be kinder, or more forceful, or more imaginative.  The words sit there waiting, while your brain sorts through many possibilities—A metaphor? A different word?  A punctuation mark? A more humorous phrase?

What should concerned parents do to limit media time, and to provide more stimulating and meaningful experiences to help their children grow smarter brains?  More in the next blog…and send me your ideas as well, as a comment reply to this post, I would love to hear and share them.

(The study mentioned here is not available on-line, but a similar study and article can be read here.)

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