Children Have Become Media Junkies

Our children have become media junkies. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study of children ages 8 to 18, which found, not surprisingly, that they are consuming a astounding amount of media entertainment each day. Children now consume an average of 7 ½ hours per day or 52 ½ hours per week of media saturation.

Consider the average daily media consumption of U.S. children according to the study:

  • Listening to music: 151 minutes
  • Watching television: 270 minutes
  • Playing video games: 73 minutes
  • Talking on cell phones: 33 minutes
  • Text messaging: 90 minutes
  • Nonschool computer use: 89 minutes

Do you find these numbers surprising?
Do they alarm you?
If the numbers are what they are, how does this impact the way we attempt to reach this generation with the Gospel?

Your thoughts? Do we run from this part of culture, ignore it or embrace it?

Source: ON MISSION magazine Summer 2010, from Kaiser Family Foundation, February 1, 2010.

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Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Just this week in our Sunday school, the teachers had a terrible time trying to keep the kids attention and focus on their lessons. Even with skits, interactive object lessons, games, hands-on activities and more, we still struggle to keep the children interested. It is easy to pick out the children who get the most tv and computer time, they can't sit still, pay attention or stay quiet for more than a few moments at a time. It sometimes feels impossible to come up with enough flash, glitz and glitter to keep them engaged. We simply can't compete with the intensity and instant gratification of video games.

    So, how DO we reach them with the gospel? Is it our job to try and buck the trend, teaching them to sit still, be social with real people, respect elders, and build up their attention spans? Parents don't seem to be doing it. Or, do we pour more money and resources into bigger and fancier multi-media presentations and try to entertain them as a means to get through to these kids? Right now it feels like a losing battle.

    I've been both a director of Christian Education and the head of church media and while it is easy to say – "go all out, use the latest technology to reach people" I can tell you, it is not that easy. The cost in man-power, tech know-how, and dollars is appreciable – certainly beyond the reach of the average church. I've invested hundreds of hours of my own time to learn to use presentation software and create visual media. Now we're looking into video production for online use. For a two person, volunteer force, that is an overwhelming proposition.

    It may be a pipe dream, but I am hoping for the day when people get sick of the information overload and seek out the church as a place of peace, serenity, and refreshing. Perhaps one day the pendulum will swing back that way and we just have to wait it out.

    I would love to see more input here about how to reach our kids. Do we jump into the media frenzy, or pull back and present the gospel as simply as Jesus did?

  • Rocco Capra says:

    We eliminated cable tv when my wife and I were first married. We have no game consoles, my personal work/school MacBook and one family computer. We watch about six hours of movies a week as a family. My girls (10 & 12) just got their first iPods which sync with mom and dads iTunes.

    All that to say, you have to start early in order to ‘avoid’ media. How you would remove all that once it is in there is beyond me. The crucial thing would be to monitor, and educate your children on what they injest from the media.

    The reson we avoided ‘media’ is a desire not to be blown here and there by every wind of change ourselves, let alone our children.

  • michael says:

    I think one of the problems with parenting is that people don't know how to parent. we go to school to learn to drive, learn our occupations but for the truly important things we just do them; we learn from our experiences and take those leasons on to our own lives; trial and error. Also those lessons sometimes are compounded by our experiences – I call it parenting through guilt. Our parents treated us a certain way and we tell ourselves, "I won't be that way", or our kids may get less attention at times and we let them get away with something we would not of let them do before. Must find a good spritual leader to help guide us. Not a single source but a guide.

  • Two things: As parents we need to keep a close eye on what they are watching and listening to. As Christians we need to understand this media and use it to promote the gospel.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ron Edmondson, Gloria B.. Gloria B. said: RT @RonEdmondson: How should we address the saturation of media in our children's lives? Read this […]

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