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FL Parents Compete for Attention of Screen-Saturated Teens

March 7, 2011

MIAMI - Florida parents should be wary of too much screen time for their kids. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study of 2,000 young people nationwide, aged eight to eighteen, found that they spend an average of over seven hours a day interacting with digital media.

Mother, journalist, and author of "Let the Baby Drive: Navigating the Road of New Motherhood," Lu Hanessian, says too much screen time makes it difficult for children to relate to their parents and other children.

"I am actually quite concerned and disturbed by the amount of time that children today, teenagers, are spending on devices and computers. It actually concerns me not just for the kids, but for their future."

Hanessian says parents could see their children lose interest in school and not respond to discipline because of texting and Facebook updating. She adds that the attachment that grew between parent and infant can be strained by electronic device distractions, but that it's never too late to re-establish those essential ties.

"It's really hard to set a limit with a child who's losing empathy. They don't care! So, the question to me is, how do we reclaim that empathic state, that connection, the attachment?"

The study found that over two-thirds of children 11 to 14 have cell phones and spend an average of an hour and a half each day texting.

Critics of the study's findings point out that electronic communication and computer skills are essential for future business success.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - FL