Like an avalanche cascading down over us, the opportunities for media exposure keep rising in our world. But it raises questions for parents. Many wonder if all the televisions, monitors, computers, smartphones, and handheld electronic devices are good for our kids. It certainly has the potential to bring a wealth of knowledge to children, but can too much media exposure for young children actually be harmful to them?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents set limits on media exposure for their children. “Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behavior.”1
It goes on to state that “television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”2
In a New York Times
article, Georgene Troseth, a psychologist at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University explains how children learn much more efficiently in real interactions with real people. She admits, “Some learning can take place from media, but it’s a lot lower, and it takes a lot longer.”3
Amount of Violence
Unfortunately, the more sex and violence the parents watch, the more they change their feelings about what is acceptable for their children to view. A new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center reveals that the amount of violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985. In a test conducted with parents (who guide the MPAA ratings), in watching just six movie clips with violence, their opinion of what age was appropriate for children to watch dropped from 17-years-old to 14-years-old.4
So how can parents practically cut down the amount of time their kids sit in front of the screen? One health organization provides these guidelines: 1) Keep television and computers out of children’s rooms, 2) Don’t eat in front of the TV, 3) Encourage active play, 4) Set a good example, 5) Create a media use plan, and 6) Use your DVR and parental controls.5
The Bible tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
By spending time each day in the Word of God, we will become sensitive to know what media and how much media is good for our kids.