Screen Time

I just got back from a weekend speaking at a camp… a weekend where I was unplugged for three days. Kind of nice. Now I’m checking email and catching up on articles for the first time… and WOW!

I just read our new Youth Culture Window article David posted while I was gone, The Lure of Glowing Screens. What a revealing article about teenagers and the time they spend staring at the all mighty screen.

This is David’s third article in the series we’ve done about the Kaiser Family Foundations amazing new “entertainment media” study. I’m not going to bother summarizing his thoughts… you really should just read it. But here’s a few snippits that I found particularly disturbing/revealing:

The content available to kids online is constantly growing and changing. Unfortunately, many of those changes are not good.

For instance, one of the biggest buzzes in youth culture this past week has been the explosion in popularity of a website called ChatRoulette. This is a site that allows users to employ their computer-mounted webcam to chat with any other person using the site at the same time. If you don’t like who you’re looking at, you just hit “next,” and in true roulette fashion, another site user is randomly assigned to your computer screen.

During the writing of this article, I visited the site for about 7 minutes to see what the buzz was all about. In that time, I clicked through mainly guys – no surprise there – about 60 in total, 4 of whom were openly masturbating. In the same 7 minutes, I only saw 2 women…but one of them was doing a topless strip tease.    

Are you still sure you want a computer in your child’s bedroom?

Crazy, huh? Now some good news from his article.

The leading influence on kids’ lives has been debated for quite a while; some think it’s media, while others believe it’s parents. In fact, the answer is “it depends.”  

In households where parents monitor media and make sure to spend quality time with their kids on a daily basis, “parents” are the leading influence on kids’ lives. But in homes where parents delegate quality time with their kids to screens, “media” gladly steps into the void and becomes a surrogate parent.

But there’s hope. Kids will respond and react to the influence offered by parents. For instance, KFF discovered that when parents did set limits on screen time, children spent less time with media…far less time, in fact. Kids in homes with any media rules consumed almost 3 hours (2:52) less media each day than kids in homes with no rules. That’s huge!

So parents please don’t throw in the towel. You can make a difference…a big difference!

I encourage you to read the whole article here.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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