The average American child logs more than eight hours of media exposure — listening to music, watching DVDs and videos, playing computer video games and surfing the Internet — per day, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. That’s led to a call for a study of the effects of media on children. Neomoralist Hillary Clinton proposes a better sex ‘n violence rating system for parents, notes Opinion Journal.
But that will help only if parents use the tools they are given. The most startling revelation in the Kaiser report is that for a majority of kids there are no rules in the household about media use. Where there are rules, often they aren’t enforced or they apply only to how many hours children watch TV, not to what they watch.
This is strange. For example, the author of the Kaiser study, Vicky Rideout, notes that in an earlier survey, two-thirds of parents reported that they are very concerned about children’s exposure to sexual and violent media content and that half said they believe such exposure affects their children’s behavior a lot.
So what explains the absence of rules and parental supervision? Perhaps it’s the huge effort involved. Busy parents have to muster the energy to learn how to use V-chips, ratings systems and computer filtering.
Or maybe parents just don’t have the guts to say “no” to to their kids.