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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • A healthy media diet

  • This week on our online poll question we have asked: Does your child need a media diet?
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  • This week on our online poll question we have asked: Does your child need a media diet?
     
    Kids love watching TV, instant messaging, listening to iPods and playing video games. But in today’s digital world, it’s important to recognize that these activities, while a natural part of living, have an effect on children’s health.
     
    It’s not only the kids’ health we have to consider here. Adults, myself included, can be just as bad.
     
    For example, this past weekend I found myself restless, devoid of anything to do without many interesting status updates on Facebook. I began to complain when Hubby cocked his eyebrows and told me that maybe I need to take a break from Facebook like he did four months ago.
    He said he doesn’t miss the obsessive need to check it several times a day.
     
    Really, social sites have become personal 24/7 tabloids, always at the ready via my iPhone to absorb my attention with food photographs and pictures of babies with big bows on their heads.
     
    Without these habits, I often find myself without a lot to do. This is uncomfortable in a brutal and mundane human kind of way.
     
    That’s when I realized I need a media diet as much as, if not more than, our kids. As the holidays approach, the kids will be on break from school for an extended period of time, which is a good time to me to really put a media diet into action.
     
    This year I have taken the week of Christmas off to spend at home with the kids. Both of them, ages 9 and 14, like to play Xbox, use the iPad and listen to their iPods to the point that if I make them stop to do a family activity they are both withdrawn and become clock watchers until they can get back to their devices.
     
    What I’ve realized with shocking sadness is that I’ve allowed their devices to become too much of a part of all of our lives. I’m pretty sure that all of us sitting in the same room, each paying attention to a different device, does not constitute quality family time.
     
    I only have myself to blame. I’ve been their digital roll model and I’ve been a poor one at that.
     
    The kids are going to think I’ve turned into a “media-Neanderthal,” but like the saying goes, I’m only doing this because I love them.
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    Media and technology run right through the center of our lives. What our kids see and do profoundly impacts their emotional, physical and social development.
     
    Learning how to have a balanced diet is a critical life skill we have to teach our kids –- as important as eating right, learning to swim, or driving a car.
     
    Media acts as a super-peer for kids, but the messages in media may not be what Hubby and I see as good values. If we don’t get involved and help them learn to think critically about role models, activities and media content, then they’re absorbing things unquestionably that we might want them to question.
     
    Media and technology have become the way that everyone socializes and communicates so we have to help them learn what is and isn’t responsible behavior. They need to be able to balance the potential of online or mobile communication with wisdom and understanding that these powerful tools should not be used to hurt others or become addictive.
     
    The healthy media diet I will be enforcing this holiday season includes monitoring the amount of time every single one of us is “connected,” limiting our usage to two hours a day total, using media together to monitor what they are digitally ingesting and being a better role model for them than I have been, digitally speaking.
     
    Have you noticed these own bad habits within your family or yourself lately? Make a resolution to start your media diet.
     
    And tell us what you think! Weigh in on our online poll at www.sleepyeyenews.com.
     
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