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Rebecca Hagelin / January 26, 2010


The latest report on media consumption by pre-teens and teenagers shows that young people ages 8 - 18 spend some 7 hours and 38 minutes per day watching television, surfing the net, playing video games and using other media. That’s 53 hours per week. When you add another 1 ½ hours per day on texting, it means that more than half of their waking hours are spent with personal electronics. If you consider what else they could be doing with that time it is downright immoral that we are allowing them to waste their lives adrift in the e-world.

Five years ago Kaiser Family Foundation researchers, who conduct the study on a regular basis, thought kids had reached the ceiling on amount of time spent on media per day. At 6 ½ hours, they declared that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Surprise, surprise- with all the “advances” in high-tech gadgets and television programming and the lack of parental involvement, teens spend more time with the boob tube and gadgets than anyone thought possible.

It seems that this generation of teenagers could more accurately be called “screenagers.”

Not surprisingly, the more time children spend in front of the screen - whether it is on a computer, television or cell phone - the lower their grades, the more they report feeling sad and depressed, and the more likely they are to get into trouble.

Ok parents, the good news is that the answer to this horrid new way of living!!

When 71 percent of teenagers say that they have a television in their bedroom, it’s not difficult to figure out that mom and dad are the ones to blame. We’re also the ones that permit unfettered access to the internet behind closed doors - which brings us to another problem: It’s not just how much media they are consuming that is at issue - it’s also the content that is of concern.

Only 28 percent of the youth surveyed said their parents have set rules on television viewing. Kids also report that their parents have no idea what shows they are glued to. Or who they are texting, or what internet sites they visit, or what movies they watch. The fact is that most screenagers are consuming violent, sex-oriented programming filled with raunchy life lessons. Thanks to a robust online sex industry that actually stalks our teens, this is the first generation of youth in all of history that is being raised on a steady diet of pornography.

Oh, and so much for an economic crisis - when even older teenagers spend more time with media each week than their parents do at work, it seems we just might have a ready-solution to many family financial problems. Cut down on the cell phone, internet and cable TV bills and then put those kids to work to help make ends meet. Novel approach, eh?

Seriously, what is a parent to do? Set limits. Engage in conversation. Stop being too lazy or too busy or too whatever and interact with those precious children God gave you.

The subject of media obsession by our screenagers is truly one that rankles me, because the solutions are easy for any parent who cares enough to be involved with their children. That’s why I’ve spent years and much energy researching the subject and compiling action steps you can take to reclaim your home. You can find them in my latest book, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. You can also receive tips each week, for free, on how to build a stronger relationship with your children, grow their faith in God, and equip them to tower above the pop media culture. To subscribe to my weekly free e-newsletter, just visit But once you’ve subscribed, power down your PC so you don’t risk becoming a screenager too!

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