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With startling statistics about American youth and media consumption along with low rankings in education, one may ask, who’s raising our kids? Parents or the TV?

Since the television first entered our homes in the 1950s, according the Federal Communications Commission, just about 99% of Americans own a TV now. This may not be surprising, however, the number of children who have TVs in their rooms and the hours spent watching television are quite astounding. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation has shown that minority children spend more hours consuming media than their White counterparts. African American children consistently rank high in media use especially in television consumption. The numbers are alarming yet, there are several factors in perhaps improving them.

A whopping 84% of Black children have televisions in their bedrooms compared to 77% of Latino children and 64% of White and Asian children. Going by these statistics, the TV is certainly raising our kids. There are alternatives to having children watch hours of casual TV programming. The study also shows that children across the board spend the same amount of time reading about 30 to 40 minutes a day. Unplug the televisions and require more reading from your children. Increased reading time to a mandatory hour could cut down on TV watching. Further engagement like questions about the reading could also help.

Parental involvement is probably one of the most important aspects in attempting to reverse statistics such as these. This digital generation is no longer watching TV traditionally in their homes, but on cell phones, laptops, and other devices. Being aware of how often your child watches television or uses the computer could highlight how much media plays a role in their lives. Wondering where they heard that word? Probably a TV show they watched. Want to know how they know what it means? Could be a movie they watched. Being proactive about their television consumption is important.

Back in 2004, revered comedian and entertainer Bill Cosby, called for African American parents to “take responsibility” and confronted the harsh realities of issues within Black communities. While his statements seemed tough and perceived as negative, they stung with truth. Something as simple as cutting back your child’s TV watching could enhance their interests in something else. It’s easy to sit a child in front of a TV rather than investing time and resources into them. The old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child” but it seems we’ve replaced the village with real housewives, girlfriends of various rappers, and teen moms.

words by: @valeryeg

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