Copied from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html


The New York Times, By TAMAR LEWIN, Published: January 20, 2010 

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online

The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.

“I feel like my days would be boring without it,” said Francisco Sepulveda, a 14-year-old Bronx eighth grader who uses his smart phone to surf the Web, watch videos, listen to music — and send or receive about 500 texts a day.

The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades.

The third in a series, the study found that young people’s media consumption grew far more in the last five years than from 1999 to 2004, as sophisticated mobile technology like iPods and smart phones brought media access into teenagers’ pockets and beds.

Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”

Contrary to popular wisdom, the heaviest media users reported spending a similar amount of time exercising as the light media users. Nonetheless, other studies have established a link between screen time and obesity.

While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school.

The study could not say whether the media use causes problems, or, rather, whether troubled youths turn to heavy media use.

“This is a stunner,” said Donald F. Roberts, a Stanford communications professor emeritus who is one of the authors of the study. “In the second report, I remember writing a paragraph saying we’ve hit a ceiling on media use, since there just aren’t enough hours in the day to increase the time children spend on media. But now it’s up an hour.”

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 to 12 that was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009.

On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them.

“I use it as my alarm clock, because it has an annoying ringtone that doesn’t stop until you turn it off,” Francisco Sepulveda said of his phone. “At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages.”

Francisco’s mother, Janet Sepulveda, bought his phone, a Sidekick LX, a year ago when the computer was not working, to ensure that he had Internet access for school. But schoolwork has not been the issue.

“I’d say he uses it about 2 percent for homework and 98 percent for other stuff,” she said. “At the beginning, I would take the phone at 10 p.m. and tell him he couldn’t use it anymore. Now he knows that if he’s not complying with what I want, I can suspend his service for a week or two. That’s happened.”

The Kaiser study found that more than 7 in 10 youths have a TV in their bedroom, and about a third have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom.

“Parents never knew as much as they thought they did about what their kids are doing,” Mr. Roberts said, “but now we’ve created a world where they’re removed from us that much more.”

The study found that young people used less media in homes with rules like no television during meals or in the bedroom, or with limits on media time.

Victoria Rideout, a Kaiser vice president who is lead author of the study, said that although it has become harder for parents to control what their children do, they can still have an effect.

“I don’t think parents should feel totally disempowered,” she said. “They can still make rules, and it still makes a difference.”

In Kensington, Md., Kim Calinan let her baby son, Trey, watch Baby Einstein videos, and soon moved him on to “Dora the Explorer.”

“By the time he was 4, he had all these math and science DVDs, and he was clicking through by himself, and he learned to read and do math early,” she said. “So if we’d had the conversation then, I would have said they were great educational tools.”

But now that Trey is 9 and wild about video games, Ms. Calinan feels differently.

Last year, she sensed that video games were displacing other interests and narrowing his social interactions. After realizing that Trey did not want to sign up for any after-school activities that might cut into his game time, Ms. Calinan limited his screen time to an hour and half a day on weekends only.

So last Wednesday, Trey came home and read a book — but said he was looking forward to the weekend, when he could play his favorite video game.

Many experts believe that media use is changing youthful attitudes.

“It’s changed young people’s assumptions about how to get an answer to a question,” Mr. Roberts said. “People can put out a problem, whether it’s ‘Where’s a good bar?’ or ‘What if I’m pregnant?’ and information pours in from all kinds of sources.”

The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and “tweens,” or those ages 11 to 14.

Even during the survey, media use was changing.

“One of the hot topics today is Twitter, but when we first went into the field and began interviewing, Twitter didn’t exist,” Ms. Rideout said. 



136 Readers' Comments

1.
rw
Little Silver, NJ
January 20th, 2010
6:59 am
Is this the direction we want to head in as a species?
Recommend  Recommended by 75 Readers

2.
Barbara J
Germany
January 20th, 2010
6:59 am
Family reunion day last month with 23 members present. The five kids who were old enough to be interested in electronic toys (all girls, ages 9 to 15) huddled together in a corner of the living room with their camera phones and i-Pods and spent most of their party time that way. Socializing, to the extent there was any, consisted of the older girls teaching the 9-year-old (mine) how to operate them.
 Recommend  Recommended by 37 Readers

3.
Jean Paul Jacquel
Varese (Italy)
January 20th, 2010
7:00 am
As usual there's a confusion between active and passive medias which are different speaking of brain activity. Screens aren't all the same.
 Recommend  Recommended by 19 Readers

4.
Proxxy
Seattle
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
If you define living as experiencing and interacting with your environment than these gadget lovers are not living. They deafen themselves to the world. They notice little, and experience a tiny fraction of the environment they live in. Their interpersonal relationships are mediated by gadgets and thus superficial. Without their gadgets, life is boring, and simply not worth living. The lives they lead are without any real substance and pathetic.
 Recommend  Recommended by 109 Readers

5.
BR1
New York, NY
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
This is a fascinating companion piece to the recent article describing how young people only a few years apart in age tangibly feel like they are in different generations. Today's 12 year old are living as close to virtual reality as technology currently allows. I am 25, and I'm totally baffled by the way my 18 year old cousins use their smartphones (honestly I am only a little hazy on what a "smartphone" is). Meanwhile, I have 28-year-old friends who are similarly baffled by facebook, to say nothing of my 35 year old friends who can not text, and don't ever plan to begin.

So . . . now what?
 Recommend  Recommended by 119 Readers

6.
flashnfantasy
frankfurt, germany
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
Don't mix up cause and symptom, intensive media use does not automatically causes bad grades, it's more like, kids with personal or enviromental problems are more likely to flee into virtual reality.
 Recommend  Recommended by 28 Readers

7.
Anthony Santora
Waterbury, Connecticut
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
I'm finding young people being responsible beyond our expectations!!Young people that use the laptop all hours-to a totally abusive level,will hopefully be influenced(by their peers) and persuaded to stay on the right track!!!

anthonysantora08@comcast.net
 Recommend  Recommended by 0 Readers

8.
anechidna
Victoria Australia
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
It will be interesting to see what the picture is in 30 years time. Other than filling our time up with valuable? trash time, overall benefits may actual be negative.

British research is showing that their youth are almost unemployable. They have their own jargon, very limited vocabulary but are tech savy fill thier time with texting, surfing and music but have little of value to make them employable.

Which begs the question. Is all this activity actually developing an individual or is it just growing a simple herd animal. One of our key requisites ofr development is the ability to develop our imagination and brain functioning. Don't make the mistake and believe that this current technology involvement is doing that because using is not the same as growing or developing intellectual prows.
 Recommend  Recommended by 72 Readers

9.
Doyle
Poohkeepsie
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
Being tied-in electronically to Popeyes's is an unattainable pinnacle in our household - not that we're not totally into digital connection or fast-food fried-chicken, but Popeye's so far cannot afford the infrastructure to support 24/7/365 access for its customer base. We are doing our level best to help correct this; now is the time for all to raise to the situation!!!
 Recommend  Recommended by 2 Readers

10.
robster
UK
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
Sorry, but it took a study to reveal this? This article has to have the biggest 'duh' factor ever.
 Recommend  Recommended by 26 Readers

11.
Eric
Maine
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
As a parent I can report that this is NOT news.

All of this stuff DOES tend to reduce a child's ability to pay attention and concentrate, and to prioritize the important (school, anyone?) and the unimportant.

Problem is, you can't just take it all away once they have it - they go really nuts. It's like a drug.

I believe that providing a hand-me down computer (with net filter), allowing him to have a TV in his room (couldn't sleep without it when he was small, and we got tired of being awakened with, "I can't sleep!"), getting him a cheap smart phone ("It would be good for safety"), allowing another family member to get him an X-box ("So he can play games with a friend in our old neighborhood") were the biggest parenting mistakes I made.

As much as any of these moves may seem minor or reversible, once a child has any of these things, there is no turning back - taking them away is a de facto punishment, and seems to have the same effect as would spanking a kid for no reason. My only hope is that this is one of those intergenerational things where old fogies like us "just can't ever understand," like rock and roll music or long hair - something that seems like an end-of-the-world abomination to us, but is actually harmless in the long run.

My only advice to younger parents (which I give to coworkers regularly) is DO NOT open this can of worms.
DO NOT give your child any electronic gizmos, and especially not any games. Let them buy them when they are eighteen. Yes, you may permanently damage their social development, but, frankly, I'd rather his social development had been damaged than his ability to read a sentence from start to finish.
 Recommend  Recommended by 190 Readers

12.
MOHAMMAD AZEEMULLAH
ZLITEN, LIBYA
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
The current write-up reminds me of a statement made by a renowned western philosopher, Carlyle: 'Men are grown mechanical in head and heart'. It further urges me to quote the Ministry of Education publication (UK) 'Citizens Growing Up': 'Admittedly conditions are not easy for a family living in the modern world. The climate of opinion is unstable, impatient and cynical. Cheap and easy pleasures, some unwholesome and corrosive, occupy undue share of...children's time'.
If that is the case what has been observed earlier and if that is what the survey speaks now, we need to pause and think about the ways our children spend time with electronic device.
The excessive use of emotionless devices which are empowered to perform as slaves under our command may not only be a cause for behavioral disorder and lower grades as the author puts it but may also make our sensibilities inexpressive and heartless in response to human tragedies. Do we wish our children to grow and behave like robots? If the answer is negative, then we need to orient our teenagers toward the balanced management of timing between the breathing moments of spirited existence and the emotionless engagement with listless devices.
 Recommend  Recommended by 25 Readers

13.
Claire
Chevy Chase MD
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
Latino and Black students are consistently outperformed at academics by their White and Asian peers. Has the amount of time spent on electronic media increased,decreased, or had no impact on this gap in achievement? Studies have noted the increased achievement levels of students who spend time reading print media or whose parent(s) spend time reading to their children. The more time spent on electronic media of course decreases the amount of time spent on print media. How does this impact racial/ethnic disparity in achievement?
 Recommend  Recommended by 12 Readers

14.
snatie
illinois
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
Kids need nutritious, balanced media "diets" for healthy growth and development.
-Good families make for better brains
-Used appropriately, media can provide vital growth opportunities for children and enhance family relationships.
-Parents are the essential ingredient in their children's media diets.
Dr. Eitan Schwarz
www.mydigitalfamily.org
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

15.
GB
NC
January 20th, 2010
8:19 am
I know preschoolers who tantrum, throwing screaming fits of hysteria if they cannot "get on" the computer at school (yes, preschoolers go to school). Just yesterday, in the sunny south, I suggested to two second grade boys that they could draw in the dirt(as in hopscotch. They puzzled "with what?". They did not, nor could they creatively invent, a method initially. A stick, I suggested, your finger, maybe. Later they suggested several websites we could "go to" to play games. In recent years, I have started suggesting as they pack up and walk out for the day that their homework is to go outside and play.
 Recommend  Recommended by 77 Readers

16.
HIGHLIGHT (what's this?)
SC
Midwest
January 20th, 2010
8:34 am
This online addiction is disquieting in many ways. The most upsetting is that while your child is online, someone, somewhere is collecting information on his every keystroke so that your child can be sold something he doesn't need. You may not know what your child is doing online but many corporations do. You may not comfortable with that invasion of privacy yet you may find your child is very casual about it.
 Recommend  Recommended by 117 Readers

17.
Daniel Weissbluth
Chicago
January 20th, 2010
8:35 am
This article underscores the importance of media content. Because attempts by parents and pediatricans to limit the amount of media consumed have failed (at least in this study). www.weissbluthmethod.wordpress.com
 Recommend  Recommended by 2 Readers

18.
joebatch
las vegas,nv
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
where are the parents. oh never mind they have their own lives to live or doing the same thing in the next room.this is the same thing as shutting of the tv and monitoring their children's activities as any responable parent would do.
 Recommend  Recommended by 33 Readers

19.
Connie B.
New York, NY
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
As a public secondary school teacher, I can attest to the fact that students also text in school classrooms. I recently caught a student texting in the principal's office. School libraries sit unused except for the computers. It's hard to get students to read books unless one stands over them; consequently, reading skills stagnate at the elementary level. The online obsession among youth is so extreme, it's caused me to critically evaluate my own usage, and unplug more. To my students I say, 'You want to excel? Read books!' And I mean it.
 Recommend  Recommended by 110 Readers

20.
Jung Frau
Switzerland
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
Who is she kidding?

Victoria Rideout, a Kaiser vice president who is lead author of the study, said that although it has become harder for parents to control what their children do, they can still have an effect.

“I don’t think parents should feel totally disempowered,” she said. “They can still make rules, and it still makes a difference.”

 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

21.
Shane
Poland
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
Studies like this one make the question of what these devices are doing to our brains even more important. Over at the Edge.com, their annual question seems even more relevant, asking "How is the internet changing the way you think?". I can't see how these devices can't be influencing the way we see the world. In Case You Missed I
 Recommend  Recommended by 9 Readers

22.
DVS
Seattle, WA
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
I will move my entire family into the woods with an outhouse if i have to in order to avoid my children (or me) spending my life this way.
 Recommend  Recommended by 48 Readers

23.
MOHAMMAD AZEEMULLAH
ZLITEN, LIBYA
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
The current write-up reminds me of a statement made by a renowned western philosopher, Carlyle: 'Men are grown mechanical in head and heart'. It further urges me to quote the Ministry of Education publication (UK) 'Citizens Growing Up': 'Admittedly conditions are not easy for a family living in the modern world. The climate of opinion is unstable, impatient and cynical. Cheap and easy pleasures, some unwholesome and corrosive, occupy undue share of...children's time'.
If that is the case what has been observed earlier and if that is what the survey speaks now, we need to pause and think about the ways our children spend time with electronic device.
The excessive use of emotionless devices which are empowered to perform as slaves under our command may not only be a cause for behavioral disorder and lower grades as the author puts it but may also make our sensibilities inexpressive and heartless in response to human tragedies. Do we wish our children to grow and behave like robots? If the answer is negative, then we need to orient our teenagers toward the balanced management of timing between the breathing moments of spirited existence and the emotionless engagement with listless devices.
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

24.
mleep
New York, N.Y.
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
We are all slaves to technology one way or another. There is no escaping it.
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

25.
mandy
new york
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
obsession with outside stimulus, fear of being not in the game. have researchers monitored adult use of devices? probably the same.
 Recommend  Recommended by 10 Readers 

26.
Citizen Mom
West Windsor, NJ
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
Fine, screens aren't all the same, Jean Paul, but a teenager's need for sleep is. In addition, the ability to focus on a task combined with a person's level of vocabulary have consistently been shown to be two of the strongest indicators of success. I see no evidence of teens use of such media improving those areas.

How successful can teachers be in the classroom when so many of their students are distracted, sleep-deprived zombies who can't listen for more than 30 seconds to any instruction or idea?
 Recommend  Recommended by 39 Readers

27.
j.b.yahudie
new york
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
"..and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices..." Since the parents are PAYING for all this connection, why would they be surprised or dismayed. They can turn it off anytime they want to.
 Recommend  Recommended by 51 Readers

28.
Kevin Cothren
High Falls, NY
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
And yet public schools continue to spend millions of dollars on digital technology so that kids can learn how to use computers!!! Let's pull the plug in our public schools and reteach our young people how to communicate with each other using "face mail".
 Recommend  Recommended by 21 Readers

29.
Cullen
North Carolina
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
Researchers thought? Stop thinking and go out and find out what is REALLY happening.
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

30.
kpmcl
Dundee
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
So why is anyone surprised by this?
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

31.
nickap2000
Kansas
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
Imagine that, kids using the technologies that are around them. And these people needed a study to figure this out? Maybe they did the study to quantify it, but good grief, kids are going to use the instruments and tools available.

It is up to us parents and, in some of our cases, grandparents, to get onboard. It is also up to us to limit the time spent being plugged into the electronic world.

When my kids were at home (two sons), they did not have a tv in their room. They did have their stereos. When I wanted to punish them, I'd send them to my room - no stereo, no tv, no nothing - but a bed and a dresser. They hated that.

As parents, we are still responsible to find the "Off" switch and use it.

 Recommend  Recommended by 29 Readers

32.
texasteacher
Austin, TX
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
"Practically every waking minute — except for the time in school?" Hardly. As a high school teacher, I can tell you that kids do not let class get in the way of their need to constantly send inane texts to each other. I'm supposed to take away their phones. Right. If I enforced that rule, I would be doing nothing but phone patrol all day. I dream about a time when classrooms are allowed to use signal jammers.
 Recommend  Recommended by 115 Readers

33.
Rose
Boston
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
If parents are concerned, why dont they set boundaries and limit use? Heaven forbid someone reads a book or goes outside and excercises.
 Recommend  Recommended by 15 Readers

34.
Tournachonadar
Chicago
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
So reminiscent of one of my favourite movie scenes in "Angel Heart", where De Niro's Lucifer reminds Mickey O'Rourke's Johnny Favorite, "You devoured his soul." For all of these zombies, no intellect, no creativity except as I constantly mention, genius of the thumb. That's a skill to really advance with.
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

35.
zanethemba
South Africa
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
hi you know what it is very much true because a cousin of mine was so addicted to pornography at about the age of 13 years and we only noticed it when he was 16 years when i caught him mastubating while watching a movie. parents please becareful of things like these
 Recommend  Recommended by 7 Readers

36.
Erik
Portland, Maine
January 20th, 2010
8:36 am
Alas - is there ANY sign of "old media" ...like books? I know that there is abundant hand-wringing over the state of reading - much of it apparently overstated - yet these findings CAN'T bode well for the state of analog reading (or analog anything else!)
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

37.
warrior ant press
kansas city mo
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
Sounds like they'll be well trained for the military industrial complex.
 Recommend  Recommended by 16 Readers

38.
schoolchef
north of Boston
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
I have 2 daughters, ages 17 and 13 who love their electronic devices. To retain some parental control and boundaries, our family cell phone plan does not include texting. They do not text and informed their friends that they can not receive texts due to the fact that they (the children) are responsible to pay for them when the bill comes in. Our wireless router gets shut off at 10 PM so they have no internet access. A concerned parent can also contact the wireless service provider to restrict cell service between certain hours.
 Recommend  Recommended by 54 Readers

39.
Paul
White Plains
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
Oh for the good old days of the 1950's. No computers, no video games, no cell phones. Just the big outdoors, board games, and lots of reading. I'm glad I have those memories. The kids today don't know what they are missing.
 Recommend  Recommended by 29 Readers

40.
ValerieCourreges
Durham
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
How unfortunate that so many hours are lost for ever and that children in the next few years will be the casualties of brain tumors, they will become statistics. If only our kids played musical instruments for the number of hours they spend texting, we would have millions of musicians and a better world. And maybe museums would be visited by teens and young adult. If the trend continues, what will the consequences be on the Arts and their galleries? Will artists no longer have an audience?
 Recommend  Recommended by 14 Readers

41.
dw
MD
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
How scary is this. My husband and I seem to be fighting a rear-guard action on this one, nevertheless, we will continue to impose stringent controls on the use of electronic media by our children. We killed our television years ago, our son has the most basic phone (and we watch the bills), restricted to emergencies. We are the least"cool" parents in America but right now I feel pretty good about it.
 Recommend  Recommended by 36 Readers

42.
MT
Los Angeles
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
I was a substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Kids texting in class is commonplace, widely ignored. Picture a HS class of 50 with 40 texting- not my class but I've seen it.
With many of the schools here "70% limited English," which is a euphemism for "70% of the students don't speak English," and is not anecdotal, including at least two near 4,000 student high schools, they aren't even texting in English.
But at least they can read and write in some language. Sort of.
 Recommend  Recommended by 10 Readers

43.
Cathymc27
East Meadow, NY
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
My son went out and bought an I-Pod Touch with his Christmas money.
Now he has another electronic distraction that competes with his time to do his homework and just read. After reading these comments, I went up and took his I-Pod Touch from under his pillow and hid it. And now when my sixteen-year-old comes home from school there will be a big argument about how he bought it with his money and its his.

It is a constant tug of war regarding these electronic devices.
 Recommend  Recommended by 10 Readers

44.
dw
MD
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
Oh, besides severely controlling electronic media consumption (computer time for homework and limited time tied to the performance of chores; basic phone, no tv) we've given our kids virtual carte blanche on Amazon (books).
 Recommend  Recommended by 7 Readers

45.
Teenparent
New York, NY
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
Our teenager is consistently linked to her cell phone or computer. All the parents at her school are just overwhelmed and helpless about this addiction. Is the the reality of the future, or just an enormous mistake that we were all be paying for dearly in the next generation. It's here and it is not going away. Even the school seem powerless as they encourage the students to communicate with the teachers on the computers.
 Recommend  Recommended by 11 Readers

46.
Jen
NY
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
My brother is a human resources officer who is dealing with a 25-year-old employee who cannot stop texting on the job. This guy is on the verge of being fired because he just can't control himself. If a 25 year old is this bad imagine how bad these teenagers are going to be when they're 25.
 Recommend  Recommended by 48 Readers

47.
drapp4
caradog
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
I see parents wanting to be "popular" with their kids so they get them their own laptop, tv in room and cell phone at a young age, not to mention the newest video games. If this was taken away these kids would say there is "nothing to do" - good luck.
 Recommend  Recommended by 12 Readers

48.
mia
delray beach, florida and new york
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
my grand kids don't even go on the computer any more. you can't leave messages for them on their cell phones as they only text. HELLO
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

49.
Adam B.
Penn State
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
The comments are interesting. Why the assumption that technologically-mediated social interactions are "shallow"?
 Recommend  Recommended by 16 Readers

50.
MT
Los Angeles
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
These devices dumbing down our kids is one thing.
The ocean of free porn on the internet is another.
And even the most cursory study of that porn reveals its programmatic stylistic anti woman bias.
It's so terribly sad. This stuff has to be having a profound effect on young minds.
Why is this never discussed?
 Recommend  Recommended by 11 Readers 

51.
AF
brooklyn, new york
January 20th, 2010
8:58 am
my kids 'read' constantly on the 'net. My daughter favors fan novelizations of her favorite TV shows. My son devours wikipedia entries and newspaper articles about current events, as well as blogs about technology and, yes, his favorite video games. And yes, my kids watch web content and listen. Meanwhile, my beloved childhood copy of Alice in Wonderland sits ignored on a bookshelf. Information flows differently in today's world; so does creativity. Remember when the invention of the printing press was considered progress?
 Recommend  Recommended by 15 Readers

52.
Liz
Raleigh, NC
January 20th, 2010
9:42 am
I am a little skeptical of the findings. This is a survey, after all, not observation, based on self-reporting by the kids. My children -- a middle-school boy and two elementary-school boys -- are not using electronic media to that extent. In fact, our family doesn't watch television or own video games. My kids are allowed a half-hour each of computer time on the weekend. But even their classmates and friends who are heavier electronic users are involved in a lot of activities outside of school, including sports and arts programs. We do know a few kids that are glued to their gameboys, and they do tend to be the dullards with little imagination or social skills.
 Recommend  Recommended by 7 Readers

53.
Lisa
East Brunswick, NJ
January 20th, 2010
9:42 am
My seven-year-old son loves his computer time, but I make him "earn" it. Doing his homework without complaint gets 20 minutes, and if he wants more than that he has to read aloud to me (I choose the book and he earns one minute on the computer for each minute of reading). This way we're both happy.
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

54.
ppt
usa
January 20th, 2010
9:42 am
You were expecting intellectual development from all these tools? Somewhat like putting a gun in the hands of a child and expecting awareness of its deadly potential;
my 2¢
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

55.
Hetty Greene
NYC
January 20th, 2010
9:42 am
Does this mean kids are being forced to come home right after school from pre-K on because the neighborhood is perceived of as unsafe -- and turn to these devices as amusement.

This is also what happens when reading/math rather than building muscle strength and bone mass and physical skills and social interaction are overemphasized for early learners. (Many many schools have done away with recess. In many NYC schools, kids do not leave the school building from Nov. thru Mar. because it's too cold outside.)

There was an article in the Times yesterday bemoaning Germany's half-day school system which made mother's being home at one pm necessary, but it is something that needs to be explored in the USA. It's easier to go outside at 2 PM, then to wait until after school at 4 or 4:30 by which time it's getting dark in the winter. (Of course, this could be solved by keeping daylight savings time all year.)
 Recommend  Recommended by 4 Readers

56.
MrsJ
Austin
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
I must be friends with the 30% of parents who don't allow tv in their kids rooms and limit/monitor their media consumption. I can attest first hand that not all kids are slaves to electronic devices. Grow a backbone parents!!! I am not a luddite, both my husband & I work in the technology field and we own the latest electronics. However, we are also not doormats and our kids have limits on their activities. Kids WANT limits. Don't be like that mom who wrote in her comments that she put a tv in her kids room to "help him sleep" (ha! so he wouldn't bug her and she wouldn't have to deal with teaching him to fall asleep on his own). There is no need to banish all media; there is a boy in my 8 yr old son's class who doesn't know how to play video games and he is an odd duck. Moderation, people, moderation! If these kids can't limit their glowing screen time, how will they learn to limit their food intake, alcohol consumption, feelings of rage etc? It's scary to think of my 12 & 8 yr olds coming of age with some of these kids.
 Recommend  Recommended by 83 Readers

57.
wayne michael
pa.
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
My dogs are more socialized than most of the kids today.
 Recommend  Recommended by 36 Readers

58.
alexandra
new york, ny
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
How many hours are the parents of these kids online? Is this really a problem with the kids--or are they just learning how to be adults in our society?
 Recommend  Recommended by 9 Readers

59.
scrumble
Chicago
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
Let's look at the bright side. Raising a generation of arid, emotionless automatons with few human interaction skills will guarantee a supply of electronic button-pushers to operate our drone missiles, killing whoever happens to be our declared enemy without having to leave their computer screens. Popular violent video games are fine for practice.
 Recommend  Recommended by 22 Readers

60.
Matt
Houston, TX
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
I have to laugh at the old fogies commenting on this NYT article. Have you ever been on web 2.0 type sites? Web 2.0 is about interacting with the media, often in intelligent ways. Take for instance Digg.com ; Many of the most popular articles are science related. I can guarantee you that I read double the words last year as any of you naysayers, and that includes zero, yes zero, books. It's hard to get it through your thick skulls that this isn't the boob tube you dumbly stared at as a child. People are *interacting* making the world what that want it to be.

Is it really a bad thing to have a plethora of answers to the questions "what if I'm pregnant?" or "where is a good bar?" If faced with the former question more information can only be a good thing. If faced with the latter, hey at least you're going out, maybe you'll meet the girl of your dreams!

Correlation does not imply causation. There has always been kids with bad grades. Sure spending sixteen, (seriously 16?) is pushing the limit of even physical possibility, but a person would be just as antisocial reading books for sixteen hours a day (which nobody does because you can't interact with a book).

The inability to understand and comprehend this issue is the very reason the NYT and other "old media" is in trouble. I would *much rather* read an article online than in a physical newspaper. No flipping back and forth a hundred times to read stories (that s#$% is annoying), no wasted paper trash. There is only so much time in the day and I don't want to spend it flipping between the front page and sheet A18, which basically requires a person to have an entire space dedicated to simply reading an article. Then you have to reread the last paragraph on the front page in order to pick up where you left off, then you have to find the thing again on A18. I love the stellar reporting and articles in newspapers like the NYT, but the old delivery and distribution method has simply been usurped.

I realize that the good reporting requires money, and I don't have the answer to that. I'd prefer to donate the money for a year's subscription and have it go to good investigative reporting than actually receive a newspaper.

/end rant
 Recommend  Recommended by 38 Readers

61.
Jim Eckert
Kalamazoo, MI
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
sounds like most of the problems are simply bad parents. I have an 8 year old - my wife and I control her access to these things. It really is that simple. It won't be fun when her demands increase (right now they are very light) but it will still be simple - my wife and I will make the decisions. After reading this article, those decisions just got easier: less will be more!
 Recommend  Recommended by 9 Readers

62.
Kathryn
Baltimore, MD
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
Years ago, my kids (now 17 and 20) sat through a lecture at school about the evils of drug addiction given by a former DEA agent. One of the questions from a parent in the audience was, "What can we as parents do to help keep our kids safe from this problem?" The answer was surprising to my kids -- "Have a family dinner together every night." That's where we learn what everybody in the family is up to. Parents talk about their day and kids talk about theirs. Make that half hour gadget free. Maybe family dinners can help with the technology addiction. Seems a simple thing to try.
 Recommend  Recommended by 9 Readers

63.
R-factor
Ithaca, NY
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
The world is overpopulated by about 5 billion. It makes sense that we are raising a new generation that will be content to sit in the corner staring at their tiny little windows onto the diminishing planet. The bigger the media access, the smaller the soul.
 Recommend  Recommended by 15 Readers

64.
Rob
Pennsylvania
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
Oh Lordy! And that Elvis Presley shaking his HIPS! What is this world coming TO?!

We live in exponential times, this rapid change is to be expected. Our computing power grows twice as dense every year and a half, cell interconnectivity grows twice that rate, DNA testing costs are falling like bricks, data storage is exploding, etc. This change is predictable and will continue to be.
 Recommend  Recommended by 12 Readers

65.
G. Morris
NY and NJ
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
Let's stop deluding ourselves. Most of this digital media requires little to no computer literacy.

Texting, gossiping on a cell phone, computer games ( many which are violent), and dumbed - down TV shows are not going to stretch our children's minds or create innovators. Yes, there are exceptions like Garage Band and video editing software apps that young people use to make creative You Tube clips.

Self-discipline is the one of the most important life skills we can teach our children. How about making every Tuesday in February as Self-Discipline Day and give up the digital stuff for 24 hours?
 Recommend  Recommended by 10 Readers

66.
mgibilisco
Omaha, Neb.
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
You should really post the actual numbers when talking about the difference between grades, relationship with parents, etc. when comparing them over two different types of media users. Are these differences significant? Or is the author just noting differences of averages?
 Recommend  Recommended by 4 Readers

67.
cydfan
austin
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
In response to Adam B., #49.:
B-cuz wen I try 2 speek 2 my frend all she does is txt back in 49 ltrs or les & I nevr c her face2face.
It's ridiculous. I had to terminate our friendship because after almost a year of this behavior I had only seen her about 3-4 times. Even when she did have the time, she refused to pick up a phone and call because texting had become her way of avoiding human contact. She was the worst case but other examples include the inability of my co-workers to spell or alphabetize(even though many of them have college degrees). Did you know that though spell check may be nice the difference between there, their and they're is huge? Many people I meet never realize this. Computer games and texting may be fun but deep and educational, I have a problem with.
 Recommend  Recommended by 26 Readers

68.
Jeffrey Peyton
Richmond, Va.
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
This should be a wake up call for the renowned MacArthur Foundation, you know, the one that grants lots and lots of money to Geniuses? This brilliant institution has spent hundreds of thousands and perhaps even millions touting computer gaming as the true cutting edge of education. This is a form of myopia that believes in computer literacy but is completely blind to the toxic habituation these devices foster in the young. Young parents take heed: computers and mobile devices should be treated as a controlled substance. Your excessive, mindless use inherently becomes your child's.
 Recommend  Recommended by 8 Readers

69.
David
Conecticut
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
As a high school history teacher and a parent I have seen this evolve first hand. The very brightest will get by and thrive, but the "big middle" of students are getting destroyed by this surge of technology. It is addictive for one. Todays students cannot read the way there counterparts could just 5 or 6 yeasr ago. Their attention spans are more limited. But worse, we have the "technology utopians" - as I call them - who see it as "all good." In addition, we have the Partnership for 21st Century Skills that is funded almost entirely by big tech companies who know that education is a huge market, and which is ignorantly supported by our president on down. People like George Lucas and Bill Gates are meddling in education and think that most students will thrive with the help technology and working independently. However, Gates has abandoned high school reform because the test scores for each of the schools that he funded went down; one of the rules for getting Gates money was that every student nust have a laptop! I am not a Luddite, but when are going to be honest and realize that all technology is is a way to more efficiently communicate. When I was young student I wanted to communicate all the time, but I was lucky enough to have parents and teachers who implicitly told me that I did not have much to say and that I had better learn how to listen, and that school had nothing to do with fun, entertainment or relvancy. Are we going to continue this blather about not falling behind technologically or that there is nothing we can do, or that the world is different now and kids don't need to really know things as much anymore. I want to yell to the world - The emperor has no clothes!!!!
 Recommend  Recommended by 62 Readers

70.
chez
north carolina
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
So, as a Media Coordinator (school librarian), I question...do I continue to promote reading from books, or embrace the media that students are using and promote/provide reading materials that they can use with their tech (ebooks, handheld readers, etc.)? Would the latter continue to enable this trend of inward users of info...and is that a bad thing? (my goal, of course is to do both but I am curious what our media center will look like in 10 years...the evolution of technology is so visible in this field). In discussing this issue right now with a collegue, the comment made was that kids are lacking "situational awareness." Interesting...
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

71.
MM
Portland
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
Parents who are concerned with their children's obsessive media use MUST act like adults themselves and model lives that don't revolve around media. You cannot be surfing the web constantly and then expect your kid to go outside and throw a ball. Best not to have media sources in your house at all. Ha ha! No I mean it, we raised our kids without TV in the 60s-70s. They complained till they saw it did no good. Then they learned to play.

Media addict people of all ages. The difference is that we really old people had the opportunity to develop a stable sense of ourselves as individuals in the "real" world. We encountered life's value: familiarity with solitude, our uniquely experienced Self. What accomplishments, what moral dilemmas transcended, what relationships cultivated, shared and wrestled with can young people today experience who waste their precious time hopping from one titillation to another like drunken fleas?
 Recommend  Recommended by 12 Readers

72.
Brett P
Albany, NY
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
Parents need to take control of this growing problem and stop whining and feeling helpless.

As a parent, here are my rules:

1) All expenses related to any mobile device for my daughter are paid by her.
2) No electronics are allowed upstairs, except for a clock radio. Phones are put in a basket in our kitchen.
3) If a call comes in when we are together (especially in the car), we ask for the person's name and number (if needed), and then say we will call back later. No conversations beyond one minute. It is rude to the other people.
3) The computer and the TV (one of each for my household) are in the family room, in clear view of the kitchen and dining room.
4) Absolutely no use of any portable device (including hands-free) while driving.
5) Any violations of the above or reports of trouble from school related to electronic devices results in a mandatory four-month suspension of the device.

Clear rules and consistent enforcemenet can result in a cooperative environment where your kids will respect you, interact with you, and learn basic principles of courtesy.
 Recommend  Recommended by 74 Readers

73.
Tamar
NYC
January 20th, 2010
10:03 am
It's not just kids! 27-yr-old me can very easily relate.
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

74.
Jenny
Boston
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
It's disconcerting to watch young people interact with each other. They have no idea how to have a real conversation without reverting to their smart phones mid sentence. I've seen it!

I fought my 12 year old tooth and nail about what kind of phone to have and in the end he got a phone that has no web capabilities but takes photos. It's taken away in the evening so he doesn't play games on it.
But that still doesn't stop him from accessing media content at school. He goes to a private school where almost all the kids have iPhones and other cool gadgets. Believe me, I hear it everyday.
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

75.
Stuff
Annandale, Virginia
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
"The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and “tweens,” or those ages 11 to 14." Out of everything else alarming in this study, I found this to be the most shocking. In these economic times, how can this be? These media instruments aren't exactly cheap, yet the kids in the lowest socio-economic levels are the highest users? More explanation is critical to support such a statement. You can't just mention this in a two line sentence and not provide more information and explanation.
 Recommend  Recommended by 16 Readers 
 

76.
Scott
Indiana
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
at the risk of being branded an out of touch old man at the tender age of 27:

my greatest memories of childhood were the times my father took me out after school or on weekends to spend time in the forest. i was swept away in the joy of him teaching me to navigate rivers. i don't think the same could be said if he taught me to navigate websites. teach kids what's important. self reliance, confidence, peace, the joy and tranquility of god's precious creation... not the busyness and constant assault of phones and media and the addiction of always being "plugged in". teach kids, if not the beauty of simplicity, moderation.
 Recommend  Recommended by 19 Readers

77.
Ledhead
Planet Earth
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
This is the most ridiculous thing going. I can not think of one single thing I would want my child doing so obsessively, little own this topic. Parenting is essentially training young people how to live life. Letting them disappear down this particular rabbit hole because "they can't sleep" or "my friends are doing it" or any of the other lame excuses in the litany of poor parenting is sad. I have one word for everybody - moderation - from the latin verb moderare, meaning to control, with the further connotation of within reasonable limits. Which adds up to.....wait for it......BALANCE!! Come on people get it together. This shouldn't be that hard.
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

78.
sarah
dallas
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
I find it interesting that so many people debating the merits of technology are interacting via one of those electronic devices so consistently derided as evil.

As a 25-year-old who *loves* books (including e-books), can I just emphasize that people have always found ways to waste their time? Is it any worse to waste time texting than it is to plop down in front of the TV for hours, as my father did when he was a child, and watch reruns of "Gunsmoke"? Neither teaches grammar or critical thinking.

And while too much texting and screen time are obviously bad, what of my many adult friends who spend nine hours in front of a computer at work only to come home and surf the internet, watch TV, and text with their friends? A huge part of growing up, at least in this culture, is asserting your independence; feeling like my friends and I have a world completely different from my parents' is part of the separation process.

Do some kids go overboard? Absolutely. But if the parents aren't there (as I'm guessing is the situation with underperformers), do you really think they'd spend their spare time reading Shakespeare if there weren't cell phones? I appreciate my smartphone for the feeling of connectedness it gives me, and I love my computer because of the wealth of information available in a few keystrokes. It's silly and offensive to say that my generation is incapable of face-to-face interaction or critical thought, just as it's silly to assume anyone older than 50 is a hopeless luddite.
 Recommend  Recommended by 13 Readers

79.
Liska
Massachusetts
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
For the record- I would count as an adult, i'm 28.

I went from a full-on 24/7 user of my computer to 'only in the evenings, when it's dark, and everything else is closed' user. I can't even stand the TV anymore. I used hang out in online forums, be a regular contributor, make online friends, chat with my pals who lived on the other side of the country from where I did to maybe 1 hour a day spent chatting through email, and 4 other hours a day in the evening editing and sorting through photographs I took on my trips earlier that afternoon.

I had a friend who lived 6 houses down from me at the time. She couldn't even get me out of the house 80% of the time, because I didn't want to leave any of my online friends in case they needed me. What type of life is that? Whats wrong with this picture? I was chatting with them, sure, but I was bored, frustrated, sad. My muscles ached from sitting in the same position all day, and barely moving. My back is still recovering from those periods but i've since gained weight since I started moving around (funny how that works!) I look the healthiest i've ever been instead of sickly, I gained some of my strength back, and I proudly have bruises and cuts on my arms and legs from my day time adventures.

The problem here isn't the technology that we have access too; the biggest problem is that we're using chat technology like facebook, IM programs, computer games, videogames, myspace and twitter as social and "me" time substitutes. They're pounding this into peoples' heads: "Don't like to leave the house? Afraid of people? Get online! It's exactly the same!"

Except... that it's not. There's no face to face interaction, and a lot of otherwise joyful experiences that two friends could mutually share are lost in the abyss of depression and the online world. It's almost like being desenstized from what's around us.

I speak of this from experience- getting away from the computer and finding/jumping into nature and other things that I love in the area have made me the happiest I am in years.

I don't know how to tackle this issue, or help determine what can change (unless someone has a change of heart like I did) but SOMETHING needs to be done here. All habits start in the home. With our parents. And there's where the first changes need to happen, from the first day children are born.

I do not think it's a matter of banning the younger generations from useing their technology, but more of a matter of showing them how to balance out the day between evenings when it's dark and a good time to get onto the computer vs the day time, when it's best to go to school, get outside, play sports, walk the dog, and so on.
 Recommend  Recommended by 37 Readers

80.
Mark W
watchung
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
The child who is addicted to electronics has a short attention span. Parents are so busy making sure that their child is constantly stimulated from the first days in the crib:Things moving and making noise all the time, videos in cars, tv and non-stop computer games.

Then that child goes to school and eventually must sit still, listen and concentrate. But he or she has never done this before. The poor teacher then has the impossible task of just trying to teach basic classroom skills before even trying to teach the subject. But the child's brain has only been exposed to rapidly changing visual and aural stimulation; it has a hard time keeping focus. So we have a ADD crisis. And the teacher has to give a disproportionate amount of time to the child whose brain cannot focus at all. The teacher is blamed but the real fault is the parents who never spend time with their kids reading to them, talking to them, teaching them skills.

I have never spoken to an experienced college professor who has said that the kids are smarter nowadays. All of them have told me that they have had to dumb down their classes.
 Recommend  Recommended by 17 Readers

81.
kathkaef
nyc
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
I have been thinking for some time now that I am on a slippery slope myself in terms of my increasing use of the internet. I do not have children yet but I plan to, and if the best way to lead is by example, it really is time for me to take an honest look at what I am sacrificing in my own life by wasting hours on Facebook and other navel-gazing activities. I can't honstly say that it is enriching my life or relationships. I am sure it is no small feat for parents to find a good balance with their kids on this issue, I hope when the time comes for me to brave these waters I am able to be energized and focused enough to fill my children's hours with meaningful activities. Most of the parents I know that struggle with this are just so tired and spread thin that they find the TV and computer the path of least resistance. I think we are all on sensory overload. I am going to change my New Years resolution to being much more concious about my media intake. Thank you for the thought provoking article.
 Recommend  Recommended by 11 Readers

82.
EG
Chicago area
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
Kids, huh??? I'm 55 years old...online reading/commenting on this while at working on my computer, answering phones, doing, paperwork and other things....multitasking...as usual...though must admit not very proficient on the phonetype devices (a constant source of amusement to my young adult offspring).
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

83.
ecology learner
new york
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
So, society is approaching the 'time saturation' point, which means that 'natural selection' within the media marketplace will start happening, complementing and complicating the financing and market mechanisms currently influencing the development of new technologies and content carried by it.

The outcome of this process is unlikely to be displacement of dumb stuff (games, porn) by 'smarter' stuff (e.g., Wikipedia-like projects; Kindles, e-books). The economic marketplace and other types of natural selection favor survival via change, not improvement.

What's a parent to do? Since this 'resource' did not exist when we were young, it's possible that we really missed out by not having access to it. Yet we also know that we survived and even thrived without it. Our kids may not like this justification for being cautious about how much time they spend (waste?) playing with it, but then again -- that's why we're the parents.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

84.
atticus
urbana, il
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
This only makes sense if you have parents who have totally abdicated their duties. First of all most people can't afford smart phones and minutes. There are afterschool activities, dinner, sports. I can't believe that many children are hooked up that continuously. Why isn't anybody questioning the study itself? (And yes, I do have a tween).
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

85.
CH
Brooklyn
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
I have a 17-year-old son. He has had access to a computer and videos since the age of 4. He has had a Wii game system since age 12. He has had a cell phone since 14, a facebook account since 15 and his own Mac laptop since his last birthday. He also builds and rides bikes, hikes and works on mountain trail crews, is a photographer's assistant, babysits his baby brother, reads books and magazines, bakes, designs cars and sneakers, and is an avid soccer fan. Basically a well-rounded, decent kid. I didn't do anything major to monitor or control his tech use, just set some basic limits and guidelines, had a conversation or two about safety, had average expectations about grades and study habits, supported his social interactions and friendships and left the rest up to him. I think much of parental anxiety is an over-reaction to alarmist one-dimensional studies. Plus, not giving kids credit for their natural curiosity, ability to self-regulate, and desire to interact with the actual world around them. Relax.
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

86.
Matthew
Boston
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
And we wonder why people have ADD.
 Recommend  Recommended by 11 Readers

87.
ljwaks
Bridgeport CT
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
The on-line world is now seamlessly connected to the 'real' world of people and things and situations. A young person 'on-line' may be making a video, chatting face to face with friends on Skype, or contributing to Wikipedia -- or even to Linux. So the real issue isn't 'hours on line' but what is getting done.

That said, surfing the net -- or the tube -- is a total waste of time, creating lax habits and dulling the mind. On-line computer games are addictive dope.

As a parent I know how hard it is to intervene; kids with addictions are wily and given to lying and stealing. I wish I had been able to do more to combat this poison, and I commend the parents who pull the plug.

The maxim should be: if you want to go on-line, prove to me that what you are doing is worthwhile. Let's see your wikipedia articles or your linux code. Otherwise, read a book or sit in your room and bear your own self-induced boredom.
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

88.
idnar
las vegas, nv
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
yawn....

To those lamenting the fall of books and board games because they've been supplanted by a digital gadget: REALLY?

What's the difference between playing a board game, the Atari as I did for hours a day in my childhood, and one of the gazillion online games? There is more to read online than a house full of books. Words don't stick in your brain any better because they are contained in a bound volume.

When I was a teen I was on the phone at all hours of the night. How is this any different than texting? I listened to music all night with my walkman. How is this any different than listening to music all night with an iPod? And the boys had naughty mags back then too... porn wasn't just invented, you know. The digital age has simply made more variety available.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I turned out fine. Most of your kids will too.
 Recommend  Recommended by 7 Readers

89.
Joss
Mexico City
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
When I was 10, my parents and their friends were all very worried because we used to spend a lot of time watching TV and movies (in the early 80's VCR's where the new thing). They were also terrorized at the notion that we spent so much time listening to heavy metal records that surely would turn us into devil-worshipers. Things got worse when I had my first Walkman. There were all sorts of psychologists then alerting parents of how destructive TV was for us kids and how bad we were all going to turn out.
But you know what? My parents were always close, watching, observing, guiding and sometimes punishing. That's parenthood.
If you are close to your children, set some rules and abide by them (that's called discipline), chances are that you will not have a problem.
If you give gadgets to your children to keep them off your back or to have company while you work 12-hours a day, then don't complain and don't expect that the schools or the therapists will do your work.

Today's times are no different from the 60's, 70's or 80's. The gadgets are more high-end and the rock is much more softer, but your kids can still read BOOKS, play catch and work/help in your home. You only have to show them how to do it.

Do you really expect that all this complaining will make media companies sell less gadgets/content?
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

90.
Roberta N.
Beautiful City
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
Here's a solution: pick one day a week to go electronic-free. For everyone to discover things to do that are not electric. Good for the whole family. We're Sabbath observers and do it sundown Fri to Sundown Sat, but anyone can just pick one day a week and do the same thing. I recommend a weekend day so the whole family can connect.
 Recommend  Recommended by 8 Readers

91.
Erik Rensberger
Floyd, VA
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
"Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, 'like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.'"

Right, because who worries about the safety of the air their children breathe, the water they drink, or the food they eat?
 Recommend  Recommended by 15 Readers

92.
SJR
Ohio
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
I find this very disturbing and see it in a 9yo and a 17 yo. Both have gadgets (9yo boy has an iPod touch, all video games, and the 17yo has an iPhone).

Neither one is particularly good at socializing (I've always just assumed it's because they are children - I'm sure I wasn't either at their age). Hard to know. But it distresses me to see them hunched over and staring blindly at a screen all the time.

It's kind of sad.

I try to think, on my deathbed, what will I say: Gee, I'm glad I spent so much time on the internet!

What's really important is getting outside, experiencing nature, and the relationships in our lives.

One annoying trend I've noticed with cell phones is that if someone calls, you are expected to pick up, no matter what you are doing. My husband will do this (his family and extended family call often) and will chat while perusing the aisles of Home Depot while I am trying to manage 2 little kids who are going crazy.

I REALLY HATE that trend.
 Recommend  Recommended by 16 Readers

93.
redcanyongal
a canyon, Az
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
This is a transitional time, change happening fast, and judging from the comments here most people want to hang onto the illusion of control that they see slipping away.

Our human relationships define our lives, the parent-child relationship being the most important. Helping children to learn and understand and create their place in the world, while remaining open to learning ourselves as parents, is essential - consider opening your minds to the world your children live in. It is vastly different than the one you grew up in. You are holding them back.

Relationships grow online, just as they do in real life; many start online and progress to real life. These relationships can be every bit as valuable as those that happen and/or begin in the physically present world.

School is vastly behind the eight ball, in appearing valuable to children by their lights. Catch up to what kids need in their lives: resource centers with mentors helping children to pursue their interests serve much better than the old model of authoritarian schooling.

Kids are fighting hard to be able to learn in ways that are relevant to their lives. Why does everyone seem so set on stopping them? get out of the way and help, instead. You are fighting a losing battle.
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

94.
K
Portland, OR
January 20th, 2010
12:18 pm
Many organizations are working on creative ways to challenge "Screentime", specifically to focus on literacy for little ones, preschoolers. We've grown to love a preschool reading magazine's "TV Turnoff Kit"; the concepts hold true whether the screen is a TV or a Smatrtphone.

"Watch less, Do more"

http://www.tessyandtab.com/tvturnoff/

As we face a future dominated by Screentime, especially for younger kids, it's worth mentioning The Six skills for Early Literacy:

Print Motivation
Showing interest in books and knowing that books are fun

Print Awareness
Understanding how books work

Vocabulary
Knowing the names of things

Narrative Skills
Being able to tell stories

Letter Knowledge
Recognizing and naming letters

Phonological Awareness
Knowing about letter sounds, rhyming, syllables and sentences

 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

95.
Bill
NJ
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
"emotionless engagement with listless devices" -- ? Puh-leez.

A step up from staring at television.

Parents: The World is on the Internet. Embrace it, educate yourself about it, and regulate how your children use it.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

96.
mayabbott
new york
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
WHAT RUBBISH! This is the rubbish YOU read all day, because YOU spend so much time on a screen. I have a 16 yr old son. He's so busy, he has very little time to look at any screen. He plays football, tennis and golf. He works out in the gym, sometimes even with his Dad. He sometimes goes hiking with me. He walks our dog. That takes 20 minutes each day. Last night, coincidentally, he did spend in front of a screen. He was with us at the movies, watchin Up In the Air, with George Clooney. It was a good movie and a nice family night.
If your kids are sitting in front of a screen all the time, it's probably because YOU, the parents, are too busy complaining in front of yours. GET UP! GET OUT with your kid. Find some common ground and go enjoy it together. YOU ARE the problem. Not your kid.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

97.
W.E.L.
Stroudsburg, PA
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Three quick thoughts:

1. Engineers and computer people out there who read this need to work on the following: parental on-off switches (on parents' phone)that control their kids' phones. Then at meal time, bed time, ZAP...you're offline. Talk about a killer app!

2. I find comments like #2 above from Barbara in Germany and others just as disturbing as the behavior of the children she criticizes: they act as if the situation is totally out of their control. In the case of the family reunion, the adults present are ALLOWING the kids to act this way. Adults have purchased these devices for their kids. Adults pay the phone bills. I work in a high school and do not know ONE of my students (or any graduates who are now in college) who pays their own phone bill. Who's in charge???

3. Our high school does not allow cell phone use during school hours and by and large the kids comply and it all works well. If you set limits and enforce them, people comply most of the time. Last year I spent a day in a suburban Philadelphia school that prided itself on being really techno-savvy and encouraged media involvement. The atmosphere in the school was a complete joke: probably half the people in the halls and library were plugged in and tuned out to the world around them. It made me think if this is the dominant trend, maybe we won't even have schools in the future, maybe everyone will just be educated through their smartphone. (Until surgical implants allow total hands-free operation. Look for that option to become available within the next 10 years.)

 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

98.
Suzanne
New York
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Is there anyone out there who is even remotely curious about what CONTENT the children are viewing?

I have stated previously AUDIT your cell phone bills AND check the HISTORY (ctrl H) on your child's computer.

I am your child's middle school teacher and their behavior and the fact that parents are UNAWARE of their media consumption behavior is appalling, to say the least.

The children are FAILING and we are failing the children if we do not rein this in immediately.

12 year old students actually state that they would DIE without their phones.

What does this say about us, as the adults?
 Recommend  Recommended by 4 Readers

99.
christina
eugene, or
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
"it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment."

What a sad, defeatist statement. The overuse of media devices has been linked with the increasing prevalence of attention and emotional disorders, decreased performance in school, and waning levels of adolescent contentment . Clearly, the argument over whether these media sources are good or bad has been determined. Isn't it the most basic job of a parent to protect their children from known dangers? Even if it is unpopular and challenging? A culture of resigned acceptance appears to be growing amongst parents. The upcoming generations exposure to media sources is historic. What studies do we have that investigate the consequences of media saturation on the developing brain and its possible association with increasingly prevalent diseases, such as autism?
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

100.
Middle Bass
Middle Bass Island, OH
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I have a grandson who has been given Baby Einstein and other similar DVDs since birth. He is now 4 and can read and do arithmetic and would be glued to his computer for every waking moment if allowed. The downside? The development of his speech and social skills lagged significantly. Last year he was diagnosed as a high-functioning autistic. His parents have arranged various kinds of therapy for him, and his speech and social skills have improved. He still sees a lot of educational DVDs, however. When I see statistics about recent dramatic increases in the incidence of autism, I can't help wondering Baby Einstein and its ilk play a role.
 Recommend  Recommended by 7 Readers 

101.
Ley
Durham NC
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
With a good bit of supervision and careful doling out of screen-time, my kids (2 boys) have access to computer, video games and for the older one, a phone and i-touch. These tech devices don't devour their days (including weekends); I use access as a reward and sometimes take it away as a consequence (my older one will deliver me his devices without being asked when he knows he's stepped over the line). They both read like crazy; draw, play sports, enjoy movies. I think Ill call this "parenting"!
 Recommend  Recommended by 0 Readers

102.
deaf
chicago
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
re #24, yes we can control our own use of technology. Many of these commenters are saying "no," or insisting on limits. It's an urgent situation. Young people are not socializing any more. The handshake is almost gone, the "Hello, how are you?" Introductions? You're on your own. leaving us. The community online cannot replace the community of people face-to-face, but we have to teach this from year 1.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

103.
mariemarie2
point reyes,ca
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
18 years ago we committed to raise our kids "waldorfian"/hippie.
no t.v. ( which was the main electronic intruder), and no VCR.
they went to steiner schools, ate organic and had limited access to the "dreaded" media world...including logo free clothes and toys.
MY GOD, how did we do it? to make a long story short... they are now doing facebook/ichatting/texting while
studying or downloading music or whatever. it took about 10 minutes to catch up on the scene in high school.
what did this parentally-imposed isolation accomplish??
well, a few more years of imaginative/outdoor play,the ability to pull out a board game on a rainy day,
and the memories they often laugh about: playing "lost children", hours of drawing and writing, just basic PLAY!
and i suppose i saved some bucks on upgrading crap every year!
all-in-all... they caught up quite quickly when the time came.
but i hope we gave them a few years of a real childhood.
 Recommend  Recommended by 8 Readers

104.
Paul
Verbank
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I can comment on this first hand with a 16 and 12 yr old. Its just information overload for no good purpose. You need to interact with others on an individual personal level or loose touch with the real world. Sure, everyone needs to know how these things can be useful, but there is a limit. To start, no TV or PC in the bedroom and a limited phone plan. I've seen too many business user addicted to their blackberries, and I too thought it couldn't get any worse. If you add driving to the mix, things become dangerous so its just wise to understand that being connected 100% of the time just isn't worth it for both your mental and phsical health, whether 16 or 60.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

105.
Erin
DC
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Why on earth would a child or teenager need a smart phone? I very much doubt they'll have to send a text message or access YouTube in an emergency.

 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

106.
SimpleObserver
Seattle
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Quote: "While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school."
------

Oh yeah, baby! This is the next generation of voters!!!

 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

107.
Hank M
Pasadena, CA
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I would be inclined not to worry about this, basically because, as others have pointed out, much of this is simply modern "time wasting" that used to be done watching re-runs of "Three's Company" for hours on end without realizing that the male character was in the closet.

However, the real problem is that much of the new media is vastly more interesting than television ever was.

Yet, in the final analysis there has always been the parental battle between activities which the parents know will pay dividends in the future (but are boring in the meantime) and the stuff kids find fun at their age. The battle is just on a new front now.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

108.
xandtrek
Las Cruces, NM
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I deal with this every day in my classroom. At first I asked students to put their cellphones on vibrate, until I realized I was getting constant vibration noises in the classroom. Now they are required to TURN OFF the phone and put it out of sight (because they are constantly looking at the screen). Now I won't let them leave (this is a college classroom) for a bathroom break without leaving their phone on my desk. Last semester students regularly got up and left the class so they could text -- a constant stream of students leaving the class with their phone and coming back a few minutes later. These are supposedly adults and I told them if they can not go 1 hour and 20 minutes without their phone (or even thinking about it) they should drop and take another class. And believe me, there IS a correlation between constant texting and low grades -- they no longer have the ability to read a book, comprehend the text, and analyze complex thoughts.
 Recommend  Recommended by 13 Readers

109.
Jacob
Brooklyn, NY
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
It's definitely in parents’ control. In our home and those of most people I know in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, most homes have very limited TV, many with none, even no DVD. No one I know has anything in the kids’ rooms. Most also have strictly controlled access to the internet or none. Our 14 year old has used 140 minutes on her cell in the past year. As for the fear of kids being behind in "online skills," ask yourself this: how long does it take to learn how to use a mouse or trackball, surf, or text? We adults have all learned this stuff without any problem; the kids can and do also. Now, catching up on the reading and writing skills a kid hasn't practiced during years of watching videos, that's a problem; ask any reading specialist. Chances are, they'll never catch up. PS: an Orthodox girl in yeshiva has 14 subjects with attendant exams and often Regents. A high school boy studies hours every week preparing for the equivalent of a masters level seminar. I’m not exaggerating.
 Recommend  Recommended by 4 Readers

110.
amfasick
San Francisco
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Did the researchers take a look at how often adults are online? Listening to music for most of the day does not mean being obsessed with machines. Unless we have some better idea of what people are using the media for and how they are interacting with the world, we can't really understand the impact. Adults usually deplore whatever young people are doing, yet each generation survives and most of them make positive contributions to the community and the world.
 Recommend  Recommended by 0 Readers

111.
Ellen
Missouri
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I'm in my forties and I was at the breakfast table over the holidays with my mom and my husband, who chastized me for having my iPhone in front of me. My response: I'm reading the newspaper, just as you are, only you have the print version and I have the mobile NYT.....They were quiet after that....is there a real difference?
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

112.
steve
ohio
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
7 n 10 kids have tvs in their room, and we're shocked that they are so wired? really? why on earth would a parent put a tv in a kids room. I honestly have no idea. Seems like the dumbest idea ever, unless you hope to raise the comic book guy on the Simpson's.
 Recommend  Recommended by 4 Readers

113.
C
NY
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I've had a computer in my room since I was, oh, about 9. I used it to pen at least 100 short stories - admittedly unpublishable for the most part - and, via AOL, to meet like-minded individuals, who frankly were unavailable to me in my school or extracurricular activities.

The connection between depression and extensive media use may be in the other direction - because I lacked sufficient social stimulus with "face time" (that is, I could not relate to my peers in meaningful ways; we were on completely different wavelengths), I became quite depressed and sought to fill the gap with participation in virtual worlds. Through access to online chat rooms, online games, and other social media, I was able to find other teens who were more like me. My parents taught me not to give out my full name, address or phone number.

In closing, I would also note that stringently restricting a child's access to all forms of technology in reaction to scare-stories like this article will only do your child a disservice in the end. Better to teach healthy usage of new media than to teach that the Internet, the Television, etc., are "evil" technological creations not to be touched or to be restricted to tiny increments. I am reminded of proud parents who claim their children are only allowed to play video games for 30 minutes a week, and then act puzzled or dismayed when their child doesn't comply, automaton fashion, with turning off the Wii as soon as that (precisely timed) 30 minutes is up.
 Recommend  Recommended by 2 Readers

114.
Tristan Verboven
Montreal
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
"The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades."

Its interesting how parents fear that their kids are 'prisoners' of such a device, but dont see anything wrong with their kids spending 7 hours a day in a classroom submitting to institutionalized behaviourism. It seems that tethering is not the problem. Its all a matter of what they are tethered to.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

115.
Paula
Lansdale, PA
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
We are very, very close to the end of civilization. Soon, these teenagers who can't concentrate on one topic for more than 32 seconds are going to be the doctors, lawyers, cops, teachers, bus drivers that we soon-to-be retirees are going to rely on. Yikes! Maybe I'll stockpile medical books and fend for myself in my old age.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

116.
oz
LA
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
It's the parents, stupid. As with all bad trends that we worry about it every generation, it has to do with how much parental control is exerted in the household. I mean, c'mon, it's not like the kids bought their own phones, computers and internet access.
 Recommend  Recommended by 5 Readers

117.
Joe
Notre Dame, IN
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
I have zero sympathy for (most) parents who feel powerless to do anything about this, or doctors who say that the question of whether it's good or bad is irrelevant because it's so ubiquitous (try testing the validity of that statement on something like carcinogens). If you're afraid to be stricter than the parents of your kids' friends, that's your own weakness.
 Recommend  Recommended by 7 Readers

118.
Susan Goding
King County, WA
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Schools need to jump into the fray and start providing educational links on the student information site. Classic movies, tv series and radio should be linked on school web sites. Students read on their cell phones so point them to sites where they can download non-copyrighted books. Why aren't adults and educators trying harder to engage with youth?

The congress in its wisdom has outlawed schools that recieve e-rate money from using facebook or teachertube and other online social networking sites to connect with students. A very bad law. Homework should be to watched and listened to because these have enriched our culture also. Many of our cultural references are to things students could access on their cell phones, if we would do it. Links to Citizen Cane, Dvorak, the Draining of Lake Michigan, Spanish lessons, etc could be on school websites or posted on the school's facebook page. I have heard it suggested that we are moving from a written culture to an oral culture. I think the grownups in these children's lives need to offer guidance to the important parts of our oral culture.
 Recommend  Recommended by 0 Readers

119.
Black and Gold
NYC
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Where are this clown's parents? Who in their right mind would buy an eighth grader a cell phone? I especially like the fact that the writer actually believes these kids are not using these devices in school. It's going to be really scary when America has to rely on a generation who knows nothing other than how to waste time on the internet. Also, why is it that everyone on welfare has the latest, most expensive phones? I thought they were supposed to be too poor to eat, yet they sure seem to have enough money for cell phones and large SUV's.
 Recommend  Recommended by 4 Readers

120.
silentfilm
Lakeville CT
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of students in Latin America and elsewhere in the world are learning how to develop the full potential of their brains, courtesy of the David Lynch Foundation, which has brought the Transcendental Meditation program to high schools and colleges throughout South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (and yes, some USA schools). Studies indicate that these students do better on tests, have less stress, develop a more positive attitude to life and interact better in social situations. Bottom line: either American schools wake up to the need to transform the education process into something more meaningful (I have taught in prep schools for 18 years and see the deterioration of interest due to the proliferation of texting, iPods, etc.) or our country will continue its slide into cultural and intellectual oblivion.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

121.
n.h.
boston, ma
January 20th, 2010
4:24 pm
The real question is, will they get over it when they are older?
I do not think this is news. I am 27 but remember being on AOL in chat rooms until I could not longer stay awake when I was in high school. Now my generation reads its news online, comments on websites such as this, and pokes around on their Iphones - but we also hold steady jobs and browse the used book stores. I think the kids will be alright..eventually.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

122.
Jeff Robbins
Long Beach, New York
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
After reading the submitted comments, what seems to be missing is the fact that the companies selling the gadgets, content, and time spent texting and yaaking are raking in huge sums. If, in fact, the reality is that the iGeneration is being seriously harmed, physically, mentally, and socially, thanks to the power of these media to addict, consuming huge amounts of time and attention, as the lion's share of comments suggest, the message is the companies hauling in the profits are doing so at the expense of the nation's future.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

123.
Follanger
Pennsylvania
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
"Contrary to popular wisdom, the heaviest media users reported spending a similar amount of time exercising as the light media users" - That's soooo funny. YouTube shaken not stirred, please.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

124.
B. Driscoll
NYC
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
Children have and always will emulate the behavior of their parents. Televisions are turned on as if they were lights. Mom and Dad "work from home" all time on the computer; too busy for the kids. Kids are encouraged to do the same with no suppervision.
Notice the huge number of adult parents who use phones/blackberries while walking with their kids, pushing then in their swings at the playground and otherwise spending "quality" time with them. Kids get the messege: It's okay to ignore Mom and Dad with my gizmos; they do. Is it any wonder we are raising antisocial kids with short attention spans.

 Recommend  Recommended by 8 Readers

125.
Linda M
Pttsburgh
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
I don't understand those commentators who claim that the addiction to tech devices is harming a child's school work and learning abilities. How is wasting a whole day outside playing hide and seek or drawing in the dirt with kids around the block improving a child's learning potential? Don't idealize the good old times when we "socialized" more. Too much of anything is not healthy. I doubt it those kids who roamed freely outside after school every day grew up all to be exemplary citizens who personify the American dream. There's plenty of 20-somethings today who are equally addicted to Facebook, Twitter, their i-phones, i-pods and whatnot but still manage to get a college education, have a circle of friends and snatch a job they like. As non-PC as this is, eliminating technology is not gonna eliminate dumb or anti-social students from your classrooms. They will just find other ways to waste their lives.
 Recommend  Recommended by 3 Readers

126.
Dennis L
New York City
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
What bugs me most about this phenonmenon (my two teenagers are of so inclined) is that as New Yorkers, they are missing out on so many things NYC has to offer. Maybe in Oshkosh (sorry, Oshkoshians) there ain't that much else to do, but it's a crime to pass up on the museums, the theater, the architecture, the neighborhoods, the cultures, we have to offer.

127.
Kate Koza
Coral Gables, FL
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
If Francie Nolan had come of age in today's media-flooded environment, that tree in Brooklyn would not have grown quite as magically as it did.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

128.
Susan
Cambridge, MA
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
Is it that excessive media-obsession leads to bad grades, or that kids with bad grades are already easily distracted or really bad with procrastination, and that the internet is just their chosen method of such distraction or procrastination?

And really, adults? You're all reading this article online and then commenting on it online. I'm sure you also read other news, maybe even blogs, online. Some of you have have even ventured into the world of facebook. I'm surprised no one has done a survey of those over 25 whose lives have also been taken over by technology.

It's not about the kids, it's about society. If you want the kids to chill, it's time to set the example.
 Recommend  Recommended by 1 Reader

129.
thelampnyc
new york, ny
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
While none of this is news, I disagree that there is nothing parents can do. Boundaries need to be set, parents and guardians should not espouse a viewpoint that media is the source of every problem, and have open conversations with their children. One of the biggest problems is that many kids (and adults, for that matter) lack the necessary media literacy to understand the content and purpose of media. Simply shutting off the TV/computer/cellphone does no good, nor does resigning yourself to the fate of parenting a gadget zombie. For a media-savvy youth, for a more involved parent, for an innovative and modern educator, for a critical mass: http://www.thelampnyc.org
 Recommend  Recommended by 0 Readers

130.
E. Nowak
Chicago, IL
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
"I have to laugh at the old fogies commenting on this NYT article. Have you ever been on web 2.0 type sites? Web 2.0 is about interacting with the media, often in intelligent ways. Take for instance Digg.com ; Many of the most popular articles are science related. I can guarantee you that I read double the words last year as any of you naysayers, and that includes zero, yes zero, books. It's hard to get it through your thick skulls that this isn't the boob tube you dumbly stared at as a child. People are *interacting* making the world what that want it to be.

Is it really a bad thing to have a plethora of answers to the questions "what if I'm pregnant?" or "where is a good bar?" If faced with the former question more information can only be a good thing. If faced with the latter, hey at least you're going out, maybe you'll meet the girl of your dreams!

Correlation does not imply causation. There has always been kids with bad grades. Sure spending sixteen, (seriously 16?) is pushing the limit of even physical possibility, but a person would be just as antisocial reading books for sixteen hours a day (which nobody does because you can't interact with a book).

The inability to understand and comprehend this issue is the very reason the NYT and other "old media" is in trouble. I would *much rather* read an article online than in a physical newspaper. No flipping back and forth a hundred times to read stories (that s#$% is annoying), no wasted paper trash. There is only so much time in the day and I don't want to spend it flipping between the front page and sheet A18, which basically requires a person to have an entire space dedicated to simply reading an article. Then you have to reread the last paragraph on the front page in order to pick up where you left off, then you have to find the thing again on A18. I love the stellar reporting and articles in newspapers like the NYT, but the old delivery and distribution method has simply been usurped.

I realize that the good reporting requires money, and I don't have the answer to that. I'd prefer to donate the money for a year's subscription and have it go to good investigative reporting than actually receive a newspaper.

/end rant ---Matt
------------------------------------------------

Matt, I think you've disproved your own point. This article wasn't about whether the internet was bad. Or whether the New York Times should be online. The point was teen-agers spending every waking moment on an electronic device.

I think the best comment I read was from David, #69:
"When I was young student I wanted to communicate all the time, but I was lucky enough to have parents and teachers who implicitly told me that I did not have much to say and that I had better learn how to listen..."

This is, I think, the hardest but most valuable lesson we can ever learn.

Your youth is when you learn to interact with your fellow human beings and other valuable lessons about life. Believe me, you can't make up those lessons as an adult. If you're constantly tethered to your iPhone, video game, or computer, how are you going to learn any of that?

 Recommend  Recommended by 11 Readers

131.
zshtogren
Barcelona
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
For the most part, American society has collapsed.
 Recommend  Recommended by 2 Readers

132.
Sarah K
Ann Arbor, MI
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
This article is a form of media, and is being distributed on the Internet.
Oh irony, you never fail to amuse me.
 Recommend  Recommended by 2 Readers

133.
Steven
Maryland
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
If the parents can't figure out when it is appropriate or inappropriate to be on the phone or Blackberry or other device, how will their kids? As I drop our 6 y.o. son off at school, I regularly see parents who are on the phone during the entire drop off process. The greeters open the car door, the kids get out and the parent never put the phone down. Same thing our daughter's day care. Parents get out of the car, yakking away oblivious to the fact that their child 3 to 4 y.o. is walking through a parking lot many steps behind them while they are still yakking away. At these ages, kids still think everything their parents do is right, so how can they help it, growing up with with such terrible role models. "Oh, I know exactly what my kid is doing behind me". Yeah, right! If it was not for the fact that I promised my wife that I would never get into an argument in the parking lot with anyone for any reason at our children's school or daycare...
 Recommend  Recommended by 6 Readers

134.
Christian in NYC
Manhattan
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
This is nothing. There are still a lot of people who read stuff made from compressed wood pulp that has ink pressed onto the sheets. Some people even listen to music that was was "pressed" on shiny metallic disks read by lasers. There's a whole world that has not yet become like this first all-digital generation. Give it 10 years and we'll laugh about DVDs or Blu-Ray or pretty much anything that doesn't reside on a server.

For the Luddites out there, we're no more "slaves" to technology than we are slaves to electricity. You would have us return to some imagined Eden when most children died in childbirth and people until until 45? Please.

What we're seeing here has a name. It's called "evolution". We are evolving as a species via technology. You can embrace the change and adapt. Or not. But the change is here and it's not going anywhere regardless what the doomsaying curmudgeons say.

If America wants to be even vaguely important or relevant as a country we need to be the people creating the content for all these devices, and designing new devices or ways to interact. We need to adapt, or we'll be the next Great Britain, a once-proud world-dominating Empire that is, today, decidedly no longer that.
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135.
Zanzibar
QT
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
I'm a little confused. Don't the parents largely pay for these things? Just cut off their account or do your job as a parent and make sure they don't waste their youth playing with a bloody machine.

I am a little skeptical too at this article and would rather see what percentage of these kids use that time for useful applications, just not playing video games, texting, and watching T.V. shows. Personally, as a mid-twenty-something male I am guilty of using computers/devices a lot, almost nearly all for work, reading, art/design, and creating/listening to music though - not just hours of mindless gaming or socializing, which is about true for everyone I know around my age in my area.

As for teens and 'tweens' (gawd I hate that word) I can't say exactly what or how they use their technology, but hopefully by the time they are around me and my contemporaries age they will use most of it to their cognitive advantage and as a tool help them think critically and creatively. But ultimately I think a lot of that rests of the parents.

Having had computers around me since I was born, my parents, and many others I knew, made sure that we didn't spend too many hours in front of a screen and made sure we interacted with reality.
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136.
jl
Vancouver, Washington
January 20th, 2010
4:25 pm
I think people are forgetting that not all games, especially, are bad for a child. I can absolutely name many games which are intellectually positive. Especially considering that what your child is likely to be reading is popular trash, such as Twilight, which is hardly better for the brain. There are many games with better stories, that require a lot of focus and careful problem-solving skills in addition to their storyline.
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