Media-saturated kids need some alternatives

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 19, 2006

Brenda Wichmann, Community Ed connection

Let&8217;s face it. We live in a media-saturated culture. We all have several TV sets in our homes, DVD players, computers and we&8217;re wired to the world.

Technology advances at a rapid pace on a daily basis.

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It&8217;s exciting for us to keep up with it and take advantage of all that cyberspace has to offer as we make media a part of everyday life.

As parents we get excited about the possibilities for our child.

We may also be alarmed about the possible dangers.

&8220;American children are living in bedrooms that are fully equipped media centers, spending hours watching television and listening to music by themselves with little parental supervision and almost no rules,&8221; according to a study released recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The study found that children spend on average, five hours and 29 minutes every day with media for recreation. This includes TV, video games, listening to music, watching videos and using a computer for fun.

In his book, Dr. Daves Cybehood, David Walsh, Ph.D and founder of the National Institute On Media and the Family, states that one reason for concern is the message that we are giving our children and how this message formulates the values that our children bring to their adult lives.

He reasons that &8220;whoever tells the story defines the culture.&8221;

That is a wake-up call to all parents!

Think about the messages that we see and hear daily in all the media that we are exposed to and how those messages are formulating the values by which we make choices and decisions.

As parents of young children we say, &8220;There are so many good shows for our kids to watch and learn everything from counting to the ABCs.

TV&8217;s a great educational tool.&8221;

Yes but, as it is with so many things in life, moderation is the key.

With young children the concern may not be so much about what they are watching but what they are not doing during the time spent watching.

Take a survey in your home and get a feel for just how much time is spent in front of the screen. Childhood obesity is becoming a national problem. Could it be that we need to turn off the electronics and get moving? Well that&8217;s easy to say but what do we do instead?

Here are a few ideas to get you and your kids started.

&169; Go for a walk. Take giant steps, hop or skip.

&169; Kick roll, bounce, and toss a ball. Blow bubbles for your child to catch.

&169; Keep a balloon up in the air. Use your hands, knees and head.

&169; Collect round items such as plastic lids, coins, thread spools etc. and make a picture by tracing the objects.

Keep the &8220;round collection&8221; handy because it&8217;s fun to use them to when you need a perfect circle for wheels and other parts of future drawings.

Have an art show and invite the neighbors over!

&169; Drape a bed sheet over a card table and read a good book with your child in &8220;the cave.&8221;

Add a flashlight for extra fun!

Keep moving and interacting with your kids.

Brenda Wichmann is a licensed parent educator with School District 241 Community Education, Early Childhood Family Education and School Readiness.