Thursday, March 11, 2010

Going Screen-Free, or Trying To

An analysis of two studies of about 4,000 adolescents found that the more "screen time" these teens had, the less attached they were to parents and peers. Teens who spent a lot of time in front of the computer or watching TV were less attached to their parents, and teens who spent a lot of time watching TV were also less attached to their peers, according to a recent article in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

I've been thinking a lot about children's attachment to parents and peers lately because I'm reading Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, an excellent explanation of the advantages and perils of these relationships. In the book, the authors argue that if children do not form adequate relationships with their parents or other responsible adults, they will form inadequate and destructive relationships with their peers instead.

Although I don't agree with all their arguments, and the book carries a faint whiff of disapproval towards mothers (but not fathers) who work full time, it has made me stop and think about how to carve out more one-on-one time with my own children. TV time watching reality shows together does not really count, even though my kids now know who "Boston Rob" is, that charming devil.

So, we're off to the great outdoors and the art supply store (or, since my kids like to paint rocks and decorate shells and pine cones, the art supply store that is the great outdoors), to find better ways to spend time together. And when TV Turn-off week rolls around again in April, we'll be going screen-free, playing board games, making art projects, and perhaps getting the homework done sooner than the night before it's due.