The average 8- to 18-year-old spends 7.5 hours a day involved with electronic media.
This is nearly as much time as they sleep.
That was just one of the stunning results revealed in Albert Mohler’s blog post titled “’Like the Air They Breathe’ — The Online Life of Kids.”
Dr. Mohler’s blog is a wake-up call for parents about a growing concern in America: our kids’ out-of-control media consumption.
His final argument will especially hit home with you:
(A pediatrician) told The New York Times that we should accept media as a constant part of children’s environment.
This is advice Christian parents cannot follow.
We cannot simply accept that constant media saturation is now a fact of nature and a matter of constant need. These technologies and devices have their places. But the role of parents is to establish rules that protect children and teens from being dominated by technology and an army of digital devices.
Parents must find the courage and wisdom to know when to disconnect.
If you’re a parent or work with kids in this age range, you know that Dr. Mohler isn’t exaggerating. Electronic devices dominate teens’ lives and increasingly pre-teens, too. They’re addicted to technology that unfortunately exposes their minds to messages that likely run counter to what we teach them at home and church.
Here are a few of the sobering stats taken from the new nationwide study of 8- to 18-year-olds by the Kaiser Family Foundation:
Kids spend on average 7 1/2 hours each day using electronic media – music, TV, cell phones, text messaging, IM, e-mail, the Web, video games, etc.
Kids multitask to consume roughly 11 hours of media in that 7 1/2 hours. Cell phones enable them to be online at any time, even in bed. According to Kaiser, “Try waking a teenager in the morning, and the odds are good you’ll find a cell phone tucked under the pillow – the last thing they touch before falling asleep and the first thing they reach for upon waking.”
Two-thirds of 8- to 18-year-olds own a cell phone. Three-fourths own an iPod or other MP3 player. And most kids use their phones primarily as mobile media devices instead of as telephones.
The average American youth’s home features 3.8 TVs, 2.8 DVD or VCR players, one DVR, two computers, 2.3 console video game players and other electronic devices like radios and CD players.
Seven in 10 kids in this age range have a TV in their bedroom. One in two has a video game console. Three in 10 have their own laptop. Most have access to a computer with the Internet.
Dr. Mohler rightly observes, “There is no turning back from the digital revolution. It is not realistic for most families to declare a principled disconnection from electronic media and the digital world.”
But we must do something to protect our kids. They are becoming increasingly hooked on the drug of electronic media.
Media saturation can’t help but potentially harm our children spiritually, morally, emotionally, relationally and intellectually in a number of ways, such as:
1. Fractured relationships with family, the church and “live” friendships
2. Steady exposure to non-biblical values and viewpoints
3. Less time devoted to spiritual disciplines and academic studies
4. Loss of book reading habits
5. Inadequate sleep
6. Attention deficit.
The media monster is devouring many of our kids’ lives. As parents and church leaders, let’s do what we can to slay it.
What are you doing to give your kids boundaries around their media use?