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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Stop the Media Mania

Mark Brandenburg

As a father raising children, it is staggering when one looks at the statistics regarding TV-watching in our country:

  • Americans average more than 4 hours of TV-watching a day, which is the equivalent of 2 full months a year.

  • 60 percent of Americans say they "always" or "often" watch TV while eating dinner.

  • The average American kid spends more time watching TV each year than she or he spends in school.

  • The average American child has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence, including 16,000 murders, by the time he or she is 18.

This can be a very sensitive topic for many fathers. Many of you value your TV-watching and consider it "non-negotiable." However, it seems clear that the impact of the media is growing at an unprecedented rate, and that fathers across the country will have difficult decisions to make about how it affects their children. 

The world is changing with the technological inventions that have been made over the past twenty years; your kids are growing up in a very different world than you did. They will need to find a way to relate to this world and to stay connected to it. While technology has produced many wonderful things over the years, children still need to be nurtured by other human beings and can't be nurtured by technology.

In America today, TV-watching is a significant factor in the inability of families to feel close and connected to each other. It represents a very easy way for families to avoid the sometimes difficult work of "being" together. There are many questions that fathers may ask when considering the influence of TV-watching or video game playing on your kids:

  • What values are your children learning from TV/video games?

  • What experiences are your kids missing by watching TV/video games?

  • What do your kids think when you watch TV rather than being with them?

  • What are the effects of the violence shown on TV/video games on kids?

  • How many power struggles are created around TV /video watching?

One thing that is clear is that the threshold of violence on TV and video games is rising, and that it is showing up on network TV at all times of the day and night. Watching the news can be an endless parade of dead bodies, murders, accidents, etc. 

It may seem that this issue is too big to tackle, but there are many things that fathers can do to improve the lives of their children and to improve the world at the same time.

If you haven't done so, it's a good time to stand up and pay attention to the media bombardment that's happening around you. It's time to stop pretending that children who watch a lot of TV are not affected by the violent images that rain down on them. It's time to make your home a safe haven for your kids, with an atmosphere that emphasizes love, warmth, and unconditional acceptance.

Here are some ideas to make your lives less "media manic"

  • Significantly cut down your TV watching; yes, it's hard but you'll see your kids change in wonderful ways (if it's not too late).

  • Talk to your children about what they have seen or are seeing on TV; let them know about what advertisers are trying to do. Talk to them about how much violence is really going on in the world, and about the consequences people face if they perpetrate violence on another.

  • Begin your training early on. If your kids get accustomed to watching a lot of TV, it's a lot tougher to take it away.

  • Keep developing an interest in activities aside from TV-watching yourself, to show your children there is much to do and learn from the "real" world.

  • Involve and encourage your kids in "creative processes" like drawing, dance, singing, etc. that allow them to feed their souls while filling their time.

  • Help to create your own "extended culture" of family or friends that choose not to be heavily influenced by mass media.

  • Write or call your representatives in Congress and ask them to do something about the quality of TV programming and the amount of violence in it.

Fighting the battle against mass media influences on your children today is much more challenging than in years past, and even more important. It involves not only your own intuitive sense of what is good for your kids but also the battle with others in your family network who see media influence as "harmless."

TV and video games will not kill your children but it seems important to examine the degree to which they influence their lives. Younger kids in particular will have a difficult time making sound decisions about video and TV issues. What young child (especially boys) in their right mind would choose to talk to their grandmother when they could play a "stimulating" video game in which they can kill 100 people?

What would you prefer for your child?


Mark Brandenburg is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers". The eBook provides fathers with the information and action plans to enable you to improve your relationship with your family. It is filled with specific techniques that can be used to start feeling closer to your kids. The book targets the issues and challenges that fathers face in their families and provides the tools and information necessary to tackle these issues.

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