Teens Now Spend 53 hrs/wk Immersed in Electronic Media

New research from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America shows that more than one-third of parents are concerned that TV (38 percent), computers (37 percent) and video games (33 percent) make it harder for them to communicate with their media-engrossed teens about risky behaviors, like drug and alcohol use.  The survey of more than 1,200 parents also confirms that a quarter or more are worried that newer forms of media, including cell phone texting (27 percent) social networking sites, like Facebook (25 percent) and Twitter (19 percent) hinder effective parent/child communication about the dangers of teen substance abuse.

 According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study of 2,000 teens released earlier this year, the average amount of time young people (8-18 year olds) spend consuming entertainment media is up dramatically to almost eight hours per day – that’s at least 53 hours a week of immersion in some form of media. The research also noted that the more media teens consume, the less happy they tend to be and those who are most captivated by media reported their academic performance suffered.  About half (47 percent) of heavy media users reported they usually get fair to poor grades, mostly C’s or lower, compared to about a quarter (23 percent) of light media users. 

 “These new findings present a unique opportunity for parents to play a more active role in what their kids are watching, monitor how they are spending their time online and remain aware of the impact all of this media consumption is having on their impressionable teens,” said Partnership President Steve Pasierb.  “We know that kids today are bombarded with pro-drug and drinking messages via everything from song lyrics, movies and video games, to social networking sites.  Videos of kids abusing cough medicine and common household products to get high are all too accessible online and that’s why it’s more important than ever for parents to break through the media noise and make their voices heard.”

 As Kids Head Back to School, Take “Time To Text” Your Teens 

Back-to-school season signifies a time of new beginnings for teens, yet it can also mark a time of new challenges for many young people dealing with added pressure from peers, especially when it comes to teen drug and alcohol use.  Parents are encouraged to frequently communicate with their kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and the Partnership’s TimeToTalk.org empowers them to recognize the influence they have in their children’s lives, while offering easy, online resources to help parents start an ongoing dialogue with their kids about avoiding risky behaviors.  Parents can learn about what teens are seeing and learning from their increased exposure to media and use those “teachable moments” as a starting point to supervise their kids’ media consumption and talk with them about the importance of making positive, healthy decisions for themselves.

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Written by Pamela Settle, owner of Light Shine Media Group and publisher of GoodLiving® Magazine. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced without permission.

GoodLiving Magazine® is printed six times a year for families in Pinellas County, Florida, home to municipalities including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo and St. Petersburg. The densest county in Florida, population is near 1 Million people. Past issues are available for viewing digitally on the website.

As an advocate for children and families, Pamela Settle serves as the local committee chairperson for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a non-partisan advocacy organization that works on behalf of the well being of children throughout the State of Florida.

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