Forum features "12 Tips to Tame the Tube," other topics

April 7, 2008

Topics last week also includes local poetry and top children’s selections

By Lynda Jensen

The new Community Forum reached 18,053 views Friday.

Subjects on the Forum this week were suggestions about how to control television viewing by Jane Ryan, who is a family educator for the Dassel-Cokato Early Childhood Center, poetry by local resident Sherry Hancock, and top children’s selections by Howard Lake Librarian Debra Cox-Johnson.

Comments from Jane Ryan were the following:

“The average school-ager now is in front of a screen (TV, video games, computer, game boys etc.) approximately 42 hours a week. That is more than a full-time job for an adult.

“This latest research comes from the National Institute on Media and the Family (http://www.mediawise.org). Here is some of the data on the impact of media and children:

1. Vocabulary - Children in poverty watch the most TV. They also enter school with a working vocabulary of 700-800 words (1/3 the vocabulary of other children.) Words are the building blocks for thinking. A small vocabulary limits the complex thoughts needed for problem solving.

2. Health - Children sitting watching electronic screens are not active, leading to health problems with overweight and obesity. Commercials often encourage high calorie snacks which can lead to poor nutrition. Your heart is actually beating at a slower rate watching TV then if you are sleeping.

3. Family Time - When kids are watching TV they are not playing with other children or with adults.

4. School Success - Children who are watching entertainment TV are not reading, building, or creating. These activities develop the physical and mental skills needed for school success. Young children who watch a lot of TV may have attention problems when they reach school age.

“How can we become more “Mediawise” as a family?

Here are 12 tips to tame the tube:

1. Limit screen time- Try limiting screen time to 2 hours or less for school agers. Children under the age of 2 should not be in front of a screen (Brain research from the National Pediatrics Society).

2. Monitor Content. Know what your kids are watching. Choose media that is age-appropriate.

3. Avoid using electronic screens as babysitters.

4. Set family rules about what and when your children can watch TV, use the computer, etc.

5. Use the DVD/VCR player to your advantage - Record a good show and watch as a family.

6. Turn TV and video games off during meals.

7. Keep electronic screens out of kids’ bedrooms - Research shows that screens in the bedroom mean the children watch more TV, play more video games, and spend more time gaming and surfing on the computer affecting their health and school performance.

8. Plan family time - Try a game night etc.

9. Talk to your child about what he or she is watching or playing. - Discuss what they see!

10. Keep electronic screens in the family areas of your home. - When screens are where you are, it is easier to monitor.

11. Practice “appointment” television. Decide in advance what’s good to watch.

12. Talk with other parents about becoming MediWise - building healthy families through the wise use of media.”

The following is poetry by a local resident:

Heaven’s Door

By Sherry Hancock

Father up in heaven what a sight that you must see,

As you look upon your children that you put on earth to be.

Your vision has not been clouded as your light shines brightly through,

It’s your children who’ve been blinded to the things they’re meant to do.

The treasures we hold so precious are as ungodly as can be,

We have yet to learn that earthly pleasures will not set our spirits free.

One through 10 you wrote the rules now carved upon a slate,

They were given for our guidance by our eternal magistrate.

Lord, who are these neighbors that we are suppose to love?

The very ones that we’ve been coveting while you watch us from above?

We wear chains with wooden crosses yet rejected your Son who came to die,

Father, I never understood the pain you felt until the day I heard your angels cry.

As a Father you must get lonesome while you watch your children learn,

They must choose their own direction as you pray for their return.

Now, you await us in your mansion above the stars that are your floor,

Your light and truth will shine so brightly the day we walk through Heavens door.”

~Sherry Hancock

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