It isn’t unusual these days to walk into someone’s home and find loads of media equipment in every room of the house. And it’s even less unusual to find them in children’s bedrooms. Children are spending several hours each day watching television, listening to music, or playing computer games with no parental supervision. Parental involvement in media choices is crucial to the proper development of our children today. Media has literally taken over the inside of our homes.
Is it really as bad as it sounds? Well, let’s take a look at some pretty scary numbers and you can judge for yourself whether media has taken over inside the home.
•On average, children under the age of eight years old spend five hours and twenty nine minutes every day, seven days a week with some type of media as recreation. (Kids & Media @ the New Millennium)
•Children eight years and older spend about six hours and forty three minutes, seven days a week using media as a type of recreation.
•Television is the number one choice of recreation today followed by listening to music, reading, watching videos, and playing video games.
•In a survey taken, 58% said that the television is usually on during meal times; 42% said that the television is on in their homes for most of the day with no strict rules about what can or cannot be watched.
•In this same survey 53% had televisions in their bedrooms; 95% of children watched television with their parents and 81% of children ages two to seven watched television unsupervised.
From the results of this research it is quite obvious that children these days are spending way too much time in front of the television or computer and not enough time doing active recreational activities. If parents expect their children to be active then they must take an active role in their child’s life.
So how can parents be more involved with media choices?
One of the best ways for you to be involved when it comes to media is to limit the amount of time the television is on every day. You can also limit how much time they spend playing video or computer games. While this may seem difficult and cruel at first, you need to understand that there are other ways to foster creativity in children than using the TV or computer. Here are some great ways to help your child step away from the television and into his own imagination (keeping in mind that the transition may take a little getting use to):
•Give them a chance to cook with you. Sounds crazy, right? Because after all, who wants to clean up double the mess, but you’d be surprised at how much kids love to cook. Sure they might make a little more mess than desired, but think of all the things you can teach them while you spend time together. You can talk about measuring and math, how much time it actually takes to cook the dinner, or just have a good time talking about things they want to do when they’re older.
•Plant a garden. If you have access to an area where you can plant a garden then get involved together. Talk about the different things you want to grow and what you will need to get started. The great thing about a garden is that you get to check on it daily and learn a lot of new things together.
•Be artistic. Instead of watching a movie together, get out the markers and paper, or the play dough, or better yet visit a museum of some kind. You can draw pictures of what you think you’ll look like when you grow up, or make play dough creations. For older children they might appreciate a special fieldtrip somewhere.
Let’s face it, our children can only watch as much television as we allow, and play as many computer games as we let them so let’s get involved and help them come up with better ways to spend their time.