Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is The Media Taking Over Family Life?

We should each examine how we are spending our time each day. Work and leisure are both key elements of a balanced life; 2 yet, how much time are we spending on each one? Important questions could be: Do I feel out of balance? How about spiritually? Am I taking the time to nourish my spirit just as I do my physical body?

As D. Todd Christofferson, a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has stated "much of what passes for entertainment today is coarse, degrading, violent, mind-numbing, and time wasting...When entertainment turns from virtue to vice, it becomes a destroyer of the consecrated life. 2 'Wherefore, take heed … that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God." 8

There are many forms of entertainment and media that I am sure we could list as destructive and time wasting—such as how we have been counseled to not view R rated movies; 9 however, it may become easy to call evil good and good evil 10 if we are not extremely careful and intentional in our entertainment choices.

Our world today is full of what I will just call 'the media' (including such things as smartphones, computers, books and ebooks, television, movies, video games, and music). More families and children have access to the media than ever before. In a recent report on 8- to 18-year-olds, approximately 90% have a computer in their homes and many homes have 2 or more computers in the home, 84% have the internet, 84% have cable, 83% can watch television while they are currently using their computer, 71% have a television in their bedroom, and 50% have a video game console in their bedroom. On average, our youth spend about 3 hours a day watching television, about 30 minutes to 1 hour a day playing video games, and 70% of them are usually interacting with other media devices such as a computer or cell phone at the same time. 11 "The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years," and media use appears to "increase substantially when children hit the 11-14 year-old age group.” 12 Many of our infants and toddlers are also exposed to the media on a daily basis, well before even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. 13

These numbers might not be a bad thing in themselves, especially if these media devices are being used for wholesome learning or recreation; however, with that much media lying around time is bound to be wasted on frivolous things. For instance, "about two-thirds (64%) of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, and just under half (45%) say the TV is left on 'most of the time' in their home, even if no one is watching." 12 What is most frightening to me is that most of these youth report that they have absolutely no rules from their parents pertaining to their media use. This does not pertain only to the youth though, we could probably all set valuable rules for our daily media consumption in order to live a more consecrated life.

Here are some questions that I came up with (although I'm sure there are others):

1. Is the TV almost always on? Does it need to be?

2. Do I frequently find myself using the media to babysit my children?

3. Do I find myself checking my email, blog, computer, or cell phone many times within an hour?

4. When I am at home with my family, am I distracted from interacting with them by my media use?

5. Does my media use distract me from studying my scriptures daily?

This is an excerpt taken and adapted from a talk given in March of 2011 by Brandon McDaniel. The focus of the talk is on living a consecrated life. To read the entire talk, you may download it here.


2.     D. Todd Christofferson, “Reflections on a Consecrated Life”, General Conference, October 2, 2010.

9.    "Entertainment and the Media," For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God, 2001.

10.    Isaiah 5:20; 2 Nephi 15:20

11.    Kaiser Report, 2009,

12.    News Release, January 20, 2010,

13.    Rideout, V. J., Vandewater, E. A., & Wartella, E. A. (2003). Zero to six: Electronic media in the lives of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Kaiser Family Foundation.; American Academy of Pediatrics, 'TV and Toddlers', December 1, 2006; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Public Education. (1999). Media education. Pediatrics, 104, 341–343.

Image: Michal Marcol

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