A lack of connection, The effect of media on children

By Sandy McDaniel

If you want to learn something, you repeat it several times so your brain will store that information. If that is true, what do you think might be the result of a child watching violence repeatedly? Of grave concern to me because a major part of my life is to care about other people, is the fact that a child who watches endless violence becomes impervious to harm done to other people; that child becomes non-empathetic to results of harm done to fellow humans.
Intuition, which to me means to listen to the greater wisdom inside of me, is dulled by the consistent consumption of violent actions. Hyped up by the excitement of endless pursuit and destruction, a child is less likely to calmly ask themselves to select a good choice.
From my standpoint, the lack of connection – between children, between adults, between adults and children – is a primary cause of our current social chaos. Social connection is absolutely essential for personal growth and a sense of well-being. We are designed to be interactive, socially and emotionally connected beings.
The COVID-19 crisis invited us to be afraid of each other and has kept children apart during essential periods of social and emotional growth. Due to this enforced isolation, children are using social media more than ever. Families, especially those who work in the service industries, often work two jobs, leaving their children with free rein of the internet. Other parents simply don’t know how to contain the use of media with their children.
The news too often reveals horror stories of a child conned by someone on the internet. Drugs are available on the internet, as are weapons and instructions on how to enhance life or destroy it. As an 81-year-old parent/woman, I am continually befuddled and amazed at the extent of knowledge, positive and negative, that is available to our youth – and adults. What I am concerned about is the influence of this expansive informational network on our society as a whole.
More and more children are hypnotized by the speed, accurate and inaccurate data, and are dependent upon their sense of well-being through their interactions on the web. There is not an easy fix to this disconcerting problem – especially since adults are experiencing the same effects and harm – but there are things a parent can do:

  1. Cut 4 equal pieces out of a circle of paper. Label one piece homework, one piece is chores completed, one piece is bathed/own clothes washed/self-care, and one is spend 15 minutes with each family member.
  2. When the pie is complete (verified by each person or a parent), the child can have 1-2 hours of video game, YouTube, TV use.
    a. Know what games your children are playing.
    b. Know who they are playing with.
    c. Random phone message checks may annoy your child, but you might save a life.
    d. Talk to each child. Listen to them. Help them understand that ideas on social media are rarely sound or reliable, and that there are many millions of dollars spent to con them into believing some ad found on their media device.
    e. Have dinner together. Have a chat with each child before bedtime. Take a walk. Go get an ice cream. Do a project together.
    It is an incomprehensibly lonely road to feel you are invisible to your family. You can’t as a parent fill the disconnect gap, but you can make it smaller. You are the architect of a child’s life. Even if you cannot give them the time you want to give to them, you can connect in the time you have.

For more than 60 years, Sandy McDaniel has been an international speaker and recognized authority on families and children. Author of five books, columnist, founder of parentingsos.com, she is a resident of Meridian and loves spending time with her three Idaho grandchicks. She may be reached at sandy@parentingsos.com; or go to YouTube:Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel to see videos on specific parenting issues.

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