A repost from 2010. Things have only gotten worse! -JB
As anyone who knows a teen or tween can attest, media are among the most powerful forces in young people’s lives today. Eight-to-eighteen-year-olds spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping — an average of more than 7 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The TV shows they watch, video games they play, songs they listen to, books they read and websites they visit are an enormous part of their lives, offering a constant stream of messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food, values, clothes, an abundance of other topics too long to list.
Mohler notes the following:
. . . .And it’s not just that these kids are devoting 7 1/2 hours of their daily lives to media immersion — their multitasking means that they somehow consume nearly 11 hours of media content in that 7 1/2 hours of time. Over the last ten years, young people have increased their consumption and use of every type of media with one exception — reading. As the researchers make clear, the vast increase in the amount of time teenagers are able to access the media is due almost entirely to the fact that their mobile phones allow an online life that can be carried in the pocket (and in far too many cases, taken to bed). “The mobile and online media revolutions have arrived in the lives — and the pockets — of American youth,” notes the report. “Try waking a teenager in the morning, and the odds are good you’ll find a cell phone tucked under their pillow — the last thing they touch before falling asleep and the first thing they reach for upon waking.”
. . . .Even as the family home is populated with various media devices, the bedrooms of America’s children and teenagers are virtually saturated with media. “More and more media are migrating to young people’s bedrooms, enabling them to spend even more time watching, listening or playing,” the researchers report. An amazing 71% of all children from age 8-18 have their own television in their bedroom, and half have a video game player and/or access to cable. These kids have computers, too. Almost a third own their own laptops and the majority have easy access to a computer, usually with broadband Internet connections.
. . . . Another important section of the report indicates that the young people who spend the greatest amount of time with media report lower grades and lower levels of personal happiness and contentment. The researchers stated that their study “cannot establish whether there is a cause and effect relationship between media use and grades, or between media use and personal contentment.” They added: “And if there are such relationships, they could well run in both directions simultaneously.”
Mohler calls upon parents to step up their involvement by helping set healthy boundaries around technological use in the home:
In most homes, parents are setting few rules for media use — or no rules at all. The majority of teens and tweens reported that their parents have set no rules about the type of media content they can use or the amount of time they can devote to media consumption. When parents do set rules, they are far more likely to set rules about the type of content that can be accessed, rather than the amount of time that is devoted to media use. A good percentage of parents who do set rules, often leave them unenforced.