The USA Today reported a study showing that kids today spend almost 8 hours a day with electronic media. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a survey with people ages 8 to 18 and included cellphones, iPods, video games, and computers. What impact does this have on the next generation? If kids are spending this much time with electronic devices, what are they giving up? My guess is that exercise has been drastically reduced, especially since the obesity rate continues to rise. I also wonder how much “face time” kids spend with family and peers. I see this in my practice with teenagers who often show poor interpersonal skills. Because of their over exposure to electronic interactions and under exposure to face to face interactions, many of these students haven’t learned the subtle nuances of communication and nonverbal skills. Teenagers need practice with face to face interactions. My fear is that lacking these skills will hinder relationship development and emotional attachment. Developing an EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important if not more important than IQ (intellectual quotient). Emotional awareness, sensitivity, expressiveness, and connection are essential to relationship formation and nurturing. We can learn these skills with proper guidance, practice, and effort. As a parent, I believe it is our responsibility to check and limit our children’s electronic media time. We can also encourage and model balance in life that includes exercise, interpersonal relationships, and clubs/organizations. Everything in life requires balance and moderation.
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