Douglas A. Gentile, director of the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University, agreed there are many potential dangers from this much media involvement.
One problem is not what the children are doing with all this time, but what they are not doing, Gentile said. "The more time we spend not being active, just being passive, we are losing skills that need practice, whether that's reading or math or social skills," he said.
Using media to connect with others -- rather than in the "real world" -- may also be affecting the kind of social interaction children learn, he said. "It's not the same type of social interaction they have when they are face-to-face with someone," he said. "It may not be isolating so much, as socially distorting."
Media multitasking may also be harmful, Gentile said. "The research is getting clearer that multitasking really damages productivity. It damages the quality of work and it damages how much you can get done."
But parents can change things. "Parents are in a really powerful position. They do not have to give up the fight," Gentile said. "When they do put limits on how much time and what types of content kids can watch, that's a powerful protective factor for kids. Those kids get better grades, those kids get in fewer physical fights."
"We are raising a generation of kids who may have a problem maintaining sustained and focused attention, because they are so used to being distracted," Gentile said.
Another expert agreed that parents need to set rules about media use.
Jennifer Manganello, an assistant professor in the department of health policy, management, & behavior in the School of Public Health at the State University of New York at Albany, said "this latest report provides important, new information regarding media use by youth in the United States."
"The fact that many of the youth who p
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