smart-devices-featured-w480x300It is always fascinating, as well as disappointing, how much time we adults spend with our technology verses each other.  This is so apparent to me as I travel frequently and have the opportunity to people-watch on a regular basis. We text. We tweet. We e-mail. We post.  We have our heads not in the clouds but in our lap tops and iPads.  It is even true among families.  During the summertime, there were more families on the road on their way to the beach or the amusement park.  Despite their attempts to get away from it all, their media habits are just as all consuming.  I thought it was just me; noticing that children mimic their parent’s media behaviors, but now a new study confirms my observation.

The report was conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the July Issue of Pediatrics.  In an interview with Health Day, study Author Amy Bleakley said it may be challenging for parents to realize but their own actions regarding media usage, really do speak louder than words. Even when parents have established guidelines for viewing, that example is what really counts.

“The best predictor of children’s TV time is their parents. If Mom and Dad automatically turn on the TV when they have free time, it is likely that their kids will learn to do the same,” said Bleakley.

I don’t know too many parents who wish their children spent more time watching TV or using more technology.  I doubt even those Moms and Dads I see on the road are aware of just how much time they’re in front of a screen and how much influence their own media usage has. And if they’re trying to raise their children with good Christian values, they would most likely admit that one of the worst places kids could be, given the amount of toxic content on the air waves and online, is planted in front of a TV or a lap top.   No doubt the constant balancing act of teaching your children how much is too much media time can get tiring and frustrating but apparently the answer is simpler than you might think; again start with your own habits.

Researchers closely examined the connection between parents viewing habits and the viewing habits of their children.  The on-line survey of more than 15 hundred parents from across the country questioned parents about how much time they spend during week watching television and also inquired about their weekend viewing habits.  TV for this particular survey also covered time spent viewing movies, DVDs, as well as time in front of the home computer or lap top.  The study found that parents watch about four hours of TV per day, while their children watched three hours a day and each hour of TV viewed by parents, the researchers also found, could then be connected to at least an additional 30 minutes of viewing time for their kids.

In general we found that across children of all ages, the amount of time a parent spends watching TV is strong associated with their child’s television time,” Bleakley added.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says this latest report affirms their recommendations that parents really need to take the idea of a being a good media role model more seriously.  For more than ten years the AAP has also been recommending a maximum of two hours a day of TV for most children and no TV for children under the age of two. And that’s just concerning TV viewing.  They also suggest keeping TV’s and computers out of the bedrooms, the kids and yours, and in a central area of the home so media usage can be monitored and also be incorporated as a family activity.  Family activity; there’s a concept.  Sounds like an activity or even a summer vacation away from the media might be just what the doctor or shall I say researchers ordered.

Teresa’s latest book, Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture has been on the Catholic best-seller list since its release in October, 2011.

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