The Associated Press story by Lindsey Tanner today about this new pediatrics edict had a great lead:
CHICAGO (AP) - Doctors 2 parents: Limit kids' tweeting, texting & keep smartphones, laptops out of bedrooms. #goodluckwiththat.
It’s not to say that the amount of time young people—and older people—spend online isn’t ridiculous and alarming, but it appears the American way of dealing with too much media is 1) decry and 2) repeat.
In any event that ship has left port.
The top-rated YouTube channel is PewDiePie with nearly 14.9 million subscribers and 2.73 billion views, according to VidStatsX. Smosh is about a million subscribers behind that and ranks fourth, and Jenna Marbles, with 11 million subscribers and 1.27 billion views, is sixth. Most of the top sites are kid related. So the idea that “it’s time” to require children and teens to limit their exposure to the Internet is, oh, about a decade too late to be even remotely practical.
And for it to happen, it would take an effort by parents to take that advice rather than, apparently, doing just the opposite. The day this prescription arrived from the Pediatrics Ward, it just so happens The New York Times was reporting, “New Milestone Emerges: Baby’s First iPhone App” which, the way headlines do, was about exactly that: how parents are increasingly loading up phones and tablets with stuff for even their pre-schoolers to watch.
A new survey by Common Sense Media, also reported by the paper, shows that, among children under 2 years of age, 38% had used iPhones, tablets or Kindles. That’s exactly the same percentage as two years ago—among children 8 years old, not 2.
Of course, of course, of course: Many of these devices are being used with adults present, and the kids are mostly doing nice-nice things. But the overwhelming onslaught of the Internet makes it practically impossible to limit use by children, and I’d say, just about impossible to restrict what kids watch. “I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography,” says Dr. Victor Strasburger, the primary author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, in the AP story. It’s the quote of the week at this point.
According to various surveys, 70% of Facebook’s subscribers are teens, and 94% of teens have a Facebook page. It’s important to them to be there, crucial. It’s social media, and socializing is about 80% of what teens occupy themselves with on a daily basis—that last one’s my own statistical guess. Could be low.
The pediatricians’ group has long recommended parents ban televisions from their kids’ rooms and limit TV viewing to two hours. In the new policy, kids would get a total of two hours to watch TV and use the Internet, Facebook et al. Using the Internet for homework doesn’t count.
That’s not bad advice, but it seems impossibly naïve in large part because the addiction to all things online—but specifically online video—hasn’t just occurred with youngsters. It’s the national, or maybe the world’s condition. Not being online seems unnatural. Depriving kids from being “always on” seems, somehow, way off.