Media Wars: Are We Fighting the TV for Our Kids?

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Neck-rolling, finger-snapping, talking-back sassiness – that’s what had taken over my child’s body. I blinked rapidly showing my utter confusion. “Honey, where did you get that from?” I asked. “That’s what the little girl on Disney channel does!” was the reply.

Wow! My daughter is ONLY allowed to watch television on weekends, so I was surprised to see that just a few hours of what I thought was wholesome TV had transformed her into a mini Wendy Williams (minus the talk show and great salary). Were all the hours that I spent drilling her on being respectful and sending her to Sunday school really no match for her favorite TV program?

Evidently I’m not the only one who has gotten this reality check. According to a nationwide survey by Kaiser Family Foundation, many of our children’s lives revolve around media. Amazingly, the average American child watches six and a half to seven and a half hours of television a day (You have to wonder how they have time for school!). And then, of course, there’s Internet use and video games. All that media usage doesn’t seem to leave much time for the influence of mama, daddy or grandma, does it?

The experts say that it’s a fierce battle. The multifaceted world of media is battling us for our children’s time and attention. And obviously we parents are not always coming out as the winners. With electronic images all around, I know it’s impossible to keep my child from being influenced by the media. I don’t want my child to grow up in a bubble totally unaware of the outside world, but is there a way that I can at least get the upper hand?

But there is good news. Parental influence does matter with our children. When parents set limits on media time, watch television with their children and discuss the messages they receive (especially the ones that conflict with the values that we instill at home), the results are happier, more balanced kids. This translates into children who are able to concentrate more and have better grades.

So maybe, just maybe, there is hope that I can morph this child back into my sweet little girl.

Moms, who do you think has the biggest influence over your children’s lives – you or the media?

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