Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taking back our kids

My daughters have an IPOD that they purchased with their own money. They also have a Nintendo Ds, Wii, and a cell phone. They watch shows like the Simpsons and they have seen episodes of Two and a Half Men. They listen to Britney Spears, Kesha and the Black Eyed Peas. I’ve told them to not listen to certain songs, but I could not tell you if they really are not listening to them. They are allowed to play on the computer, unsupervised and sometimes for hours because my husband and I forgot what time they got on. After they get off the computer, they want to play on the wii or their DS. Yes, my kids are completely losing their imaginations, constantly staring at screen, forgetting how to play make believe and they are not interacting with each other. It’s rare that they ever even go outside to ride bikes, play with the other neighbor kids or go to the beach. My kids also hear their mom and dad arguing, but they never hear the apologies or us working through our problems. One of my daughters is “bullied.” She in turn bullies her sister. Occasionally they are punished, but that punishment is often not followed through. They’ve seen their mom sad and they’ve seen me throw fits in public. They are told repeatedly that they are too slow and told to go away. When the two of them argue, they are told to just quit, never learning how to solve their differences. 

This is my household. I am not proud of it at all. I am in fact very embarrassed. Do I think I am a bad parent? No. Could I be better? Yes. I know that in America, this is how the majority of households are. Some households worst, some better. 

I believe that children in today’s world view so much violence and hate, either on TV, through video games or in their own home in one form or another.  I believe the stresses that adults have are hurting our children. I believe this is why children are bullying more than ever and why they are ultimately very sad. 

Cartoons on TV are extremely violent. I mean how many times has Stewie from The Family Guy killed his mother and the family dog?  Luckily my own two girls don’t even watch cartoons on Saturday morning; they simply are not interested in the cartoons that are offered to them. I used to love getting up on Saturday mornings as a child and watch cartoons, my kids don’t even care.  The problem isn’t just with cartoons either, there is way too many violent and sexually explicit TV programs on. Because of this, www.parentstv.org was created. I wonder how many people reading my blog right now have never even heard of www.parentstv.org. “The PTC aims to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed television viewing decisions. We do this by monitoring primetime television shows on broadcast TV and reviewing many PG and G rated movies. We log all content that could be considered questionable by parents and we give them traffic light ratings according to the amount of sex, violence, and profanity incorporated into the series or film.” http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/takeaction/welcome.asp
It's a tool to inform parents about what is on TV and essentially is used to control what their children are viewing. But that website doesn’t help much if parents are not going to it or using it. The site certainly is not affecting what is being made and aired on TV. If it did, than why is there still so much garbage on TV? Remember when the word Bitch was considered foul language? I now hear it on day time TV.

Here are some TV statistics taken from http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.

Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
Value of that time assuming an average wage of S5/hour: S1.25 trillion
Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56
Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million
Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million
Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49

Approximate number of studies examining TV's effects on children: 4,000
Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation
with their children: 3.5
Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children's TV watching: 73
Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV
and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500 

II VIOLENCE Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000Percentage of Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem: 79

More and more kids are playing violent video games.  Video games are so violent, they have to have ratings. Kids playing these violent games are committing acts of murder, torture, rapes, theft and they are doing it without ever leaving their home, simply by staring at a screen.  These video games are teaching and making some kids more aggressive in my opinion. The good news is that this year the Supreme Court will decide if selling these mature rated games should be penalized by law. In California, if a mature game is sold to a child, the penalty is a $1,000 fine. However, most parents don’t even check the ratings when they purchase the games for their children or they don’t have a say in what their kids are buying. Their kids are just buying them without asking for their parent’s permission.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42025498

Kids are stressed out in their own homes. Parents are more and more stressed and they are arguing, often either in front of their children or loud enough that the kids can hear. Kids hear cussing, door slamming and are watching their parents hit each other.  And they never see their parents make up, resolving their differences, working things out. They are learning by the example that they see in front of them. Kids are being left at home by themselves for hours and hours. Kids are bored. But kids thrive on attention, attention that they are not getting from an adult figure, but from other sources.

Kids are stressed out by school. Kids have so much homework. When we lived in Oregon, my 4th grader would come home with 1-2 hours of homework per night and she would cry about it. I could never understand why she had so much. Was it her fault? Was she not getting it done in class? Yes that was part of the reason. She used to tell me that she was constantly distracted by the other kids! There were 33 kids in one room, with only one teacher! Her 3rd grade teacher even suggested she had ADHD! I think that if I had to get work done in a small room with 33 kids, I’d be distracted as well. But that is how classrooms are. There are too many kids in one room with not enough quality attention. In addition, kids are stressed out by the bullies at school. As kids are getting older, the bullying is getting worse. Either kids are dealing with gossip, whispering, name calling, violence or cyber bullying. For more information on bullying, please visit the article that I wrote http://heavenlystrength.blogspot.com/2011/03/bullies.html

Kids are also essentially taking over our homes and it’s the parents fault. Kids in general are allowed to tell us what they want to eat, what time they want to go to bed, they take over the TV, choose our weekend activities, they are driven all over the place because of all their countless social activities, they are being taught that it isn't alright to just be bored. Some parent’s joke that their kids are "birth control" and it's not funny. 

Here is a clip from the hit show, The Middle:

Does this look like your house?

As adults, we need to realize that kids are sad. Kids need quality parenting and they don’t need to see or know our stresses and problems.  They need to be parented. They need love and parents need to watch what they are saying to their children. Even the little things can cause damage “hurry up!” “Put a sock in it!” “Just quit fighting!” And parents need to not be afraid to punish their kids. Take away their cell phone, IPOD, send them to bed early. And if you say you’re going to discipline them, then do it!

And, we need to take back our own lives, have our own activities, and get back in touch with our spouses. Because your kids are going to leave the house some day and you’re going to end up looking at your spouse and you'll be looking at a stranger and then you'll look at your kids and scream because you'll realize what a complete disaster you just raised. I hope this doesn't happen, but it could. 

I wonder what would happen if we as adults focused more on our own happiness. If we focused more on marriages and our own activities instead of living a life that is so geared toward the happiness of our children. I wonder if this could essentially create a happier world for our children. Kids are only kids for a short while, then they become adults, they become a product of their environment, what they’ve seen, what they’ve lived with. We are teaching our kids what adults look like, what adults do. We are teaching are kids how to become adults. 

Are you somebody you want your kids to become like?

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