Family Media Surprise


zombietvfamily.jpgFor generations, parents have told their kids, “Shut off the TV and go outside!” And in the last decade or so, we can add iPods, the Internet, cell phones and video games to the “Turn it off!” list as well.

But a recent study from The Barna Group (a Christian research and polling firm) suggests that kids aren’t the only ones who might need to unplug. Barna’s researchers found that parents actually spend as much time consuming entertainment media and surfing the Internet as their children do. In addition, parents spend more time emailing and talking on their phone than their kids. Considering that the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found youth ages 8 to 18 spend about seven-and-a-half hours a day engaged with media (and a couple more hours total when multitasking is included), that’s a lot of time for both groups to be enmeshed in entertainment options of varying sorts—and probably not engaging with each other.

I wouldn’t have guessed parents had become so dependent on technology. Nor would I have predicted another finding of this study, titled “The Family & Technology Report.” A significant percentage of family members would welcome the church’s help when it comes to integrating family time with media, entertainment and technology. Forty-two percent of adults and 33% of youth say they would accept coaching in this area.

And all this made me wonder if David Kinnaman, Barna’s president doesn’t have an excellent point:

“Perhaps technology should be added to discussions about [Christian] stewardship. Technology is as old as craftmans’ tools. But today’s digital and emerging technologies are in a different class than hundreds of other hobbies or interests because they have come to significantly define the use of time, the development of talent, and the allocation of money. Technology is shaping family interactions in unprecedented ways, but we seem to lack a strategic commitment to the stewardship of technology. The Christian community needs a better, more holistic understanding of how to manage existing and coming technological advances. Parents, tweens and teens need more coaching and input in order to face the countless choices they make regarding how technology affects their attention, interests, talents and resources.”

Who wrote this?

Meredith has had two careers: one as a writer/editor for both Focus on the Family and The Navigators, and one as an English teacher trekking far-flung corners of Europe, Africa and Asia. She now rejoins Focus, but with souvenirs—including new eyes with which to better view American culture.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  TheWatcher:

Considering that I have a desk job and my wife keeps our calendar/budget/misc stuff on her Iphone, it's no big surprise.  Also, something that might not have been mentioned is with those of us who have younger kids who go to sleep at least three hours before we do don't have much of a choice on entertainment besides technology (and if you are thinking "read a book", then you are advocating something that is even more of an isolation device then tv/video games).

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  YetAnotherTeen:

Like others, I'm surprised you find this surprising. I know it, but not from polls or books, but real life. My Mom's on the computer more then I am (which is a difficult feat), I know many people from church who are often in the world of digital devices, and I've even baby-sat for a few people who do the same. It's everywhere, it's been everywhere for quite a while, and I don't need a study to make me aware of it.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Hithwenur:

Why is this supposed to be a bad thing? I mean, I can see how if people are letting "technology" keep them from exercising, or block them from attending IRL events, then that would be a downside. But parents and children equally understanding the use of media in their day-to-day lives? Parents being as technologically competent as their youngsters? Families wanting to use media as family time, rather than letting it isolate them? Sounds great to me!

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  tina:

Seriously? They really did a poll on this? Isn't it already obvious?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Eh:

I'm surprised that youre surprised at this study. No offense, but if you've read any sociology books lately like "Reality Is broken" or "The Dumbest Generation" you'd know that EVERYONE is hooked on technology and gaming (1/4 of seniors[!] play Warcraft) and it's only going to get worse as the old school people die off and the people that were raised with technology get older. It's going to be the age in which the best interactions are non interactions (virtual). And as more people grow up always having constant stimulation NO ONE will want to unplug.