Fathers Incorporated Joins Raising Him Alone in the “POWER DOWN” Campaign
There’s no doubt that many youth and young adults are consumed by TV, interactive video games, Facebook, MySpace and cell phones. Social networks, TV, the Internet and video games can be an excellent source of educational enlightenment and entertainment, but too much of anything can be unhealthy.
Power Down is a campaign focused on teaching parents and providing them with strategies to become better monitors of the way their children use technology. Parents who closely monitor and limit the time their child/teen spends playing video games, watching TV and on the Internet increase the likelihood of their child/teen spending more time engaged in socially redeeming activities, including homework and arts & crafts. On average, children spend 900 hours per year in school and more than 1,023 hours per year watching TV. These numbers are frightening and suggest a real disconnect with parents when it comes to leisure time and appropriate after-school activities.
Many children/teens become so conditioned to watching TV and playing video games that reading, playing with friends and participating in sports are all but forgotten.
With the increasing popularity of reality television, millions of children and teens are exposed to a new brand of television that highlights a variety of anti-social behaviors including fighting, excessive cursing, drug use and underage drinking and sexually illicit escapades. While some reality shows promote competition and chances to win everything from recording contracts to chef positions at exclusive restaurants, the majority distort images of healthy lifestyles. A few negative examples include “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Moms,” “16 and Pregnant,” “Bad Girls” and “Intervention”. And let’s not forget long-running cable networks like HBO, BET, MTV and VH1 that continue airing raunchy music videos and less-than-questionable sitcoms.
As part of the Power Down Campaign, we are asking families to participate in a Technology FAST. The goal of the fast is to reinforce the notion that parents need to spend quality time with their children. The fast requires parents to commit to going a weekend without watching TV while simultaneously not allowing their children to play video games, use their cell phones or log onto the Internet.
The fast supports the notion that parents should consider implementing greater parental controls, especially with younger kids. Parents have the ability to mandate TV viewing, Internet use, instant messaging or texting for children. And parents should set rules for teens’ cell phone use and the amount of time allotted for them to participate in social media.
Technology has become such a primary source of entertainment that in many families turning on the TV or allowing children and teens to surf the Internet is an afternoon ritual. Sadly, less and less time seems to be allocated for homework and educational pursuits. According to a 2005 USA Today article, a majority of U.S. high school students spent three hours or less a week preparing for classes yet still managed to get good grades.
Following are suggested weekends to participate in the Power Down Technology Fast.
November 4-6, 2011
March 2-4, 2012
June 1-3, 2012
September 7-9, 2012
Parents, it’s important for you to begin planning the weekend by creating a checklist to ensure you have the necessary materials for an enjoyable weekend with your family.