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January 21st, 2009
06:12 PM ET

Risks of too much “screen time” for children?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Pulitzer Prize winning author Larry McMurtry says he doesn't see kids reading anymore and never sees them in his book store. He thinks we're witnessing the end of the culture of the book, and he may be right.

Kids in the U.K. spend an average of six hours a day looking at screens.

Kids in the U.K. spend an average of six hours a day looking at screens while watching TV, on the internet or playing video games, according to a new report by ChildWise.

The annual survey across the U.K. found that kids ages 5 to 19 spend only half an hour a day reading a book while they spend nearly 3 hours a day watching TV, an hour and a half on the internet and more than an hour playing games on consoles.

Many parents justify the time their kids spend online as necessary for school work. Wrong answer. Only 9-percent of kids said they looked up something for school the last time they logged on. Instead they are on social networking sites, chatting with friends, playing games and watching You Tube videos.

Some experts say the result could be a generation unable to compete in the adult world later in life because they lack essential reading and writing skills. Others warn this is a dangerous digital divide between parents and kids that is widening.

Here’s my question to you: What's the risk of allowing children to spend six hours a day in front of computer screens?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Luci from Illinois writes:
I don't think it is a good idea. I think they should be doing math, reading, spelling, etc., out of their school books. We didn't have computers when I was a kid. The teacher went over and over things until the students understood and learned. It might help to go back to those times. I think we were so much better off.

Lou writes:
My kids have actually started reading more since they've discovered the internet and video games. My 14 year old son devours any written word about his games from strategy books to participating in blogs. My 12 year old daughter Googles every day. As a teacher, I used to worry about it until they both started testing at well above grade level in reading comprehension.

Karen writes:
Kids today have no imagination or much ability to think for themselves. Their brains have been replaced with instant access to any bit of trivia they can find on the computer. They have no knowledge of research, spelling, grammar, or composition (the computer does it for them) and most of them can barely read. I respect the parent who monitors his child's computer use and teaches him to enjoy books.

Gerry from Toronto, Canada writes:
Computers and the internet are not going away. The problem isn't the kids being on for 6 hours per day, it's the parents aren't sitting beside them and training them what to do, what the guidelines are and how to properly use these resources. Some of the best reading, writing and arithmetic lessons are on-line, but useless if the parents aren't giving the kids proper guidance or setting proper rules.

Hope from Madisonville, Kentucky writes:
My 13 year old daughter is on the honor roll. She does her homework as soon as she gets home. She watches 1 hour of television and spends her down time either texting friends or on the computer. Either way, she is writing and reading as she uses the computer. She also skate boards and roller skates. It's a matter of balancing the time you have between sedentary and active activities.

Roy from Chicago, Illinois writes:
It is ironic that someone in the media is asking this question, as the proliferation of the media in our lifetimes is the cause of this problem.


Filed under: Children • Health • Internet
soundoff (483 Responses)
  1. Terry in Hanover County

    Dry eyes, numb bums, inability to determine fact from reality, and loss of human interaction are in the "bad" column. Ability to access information easily, learning to decipher fact from fiction, and "meeting" new people across the globe without spending money on postage and air fare are in the "good" column. Largely, it depends upon the individual child and the parents. Adults have problems, too, with internet addiction and spending hours upon hours mesmerized by the computer screen. I confess. I'm a double-addict - television and computers. Even in my sleep I see you and Wolf and it's nothing fun; it's all news and all business. Bummer. Where's George Clooney when I need him?

    January 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  2. Michael Odegard

    The risk of allowing children access (with parental controls and filters) to the greatest educational service since the Great Library of Alexandria....hmmm, how about the risk of younger people becoming wiser and more informed than older people? Imagine a society where the elders become obsolete authority figures before they become senior citizens.

    January 21, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  3. Matthew, Cedar Rapids

    Why don't we worry about people like me spending too much time in front of the computer screen. I spend more than six hours at my desk doing work a day, and no one comes by to tell me to go out and get some sunshine.

    January 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  4. Paul Round Rock, Texas

    The risk is that they will not develope a REAL childhood. You know Jack sometimes they should go out and play not just "We" it on one screen and then web with their friends they need to get some fresh air and play outside at least a few hours a day.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  5. Greg

    The biggest risk is that they will turn into a Barack Obama!

    January 21, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: It is not how many hours one spends in front of a computer screen---but rather what one benefits from those hours.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Gip, FL

    Jack Jack,

    Hell whats the risk to me ? and everyone always says go to our website. Monkey see Monkey do!!.

    Kids should be restricted, family time, and yes eating together at the table. I miss that !!

    They also should be restricted on Ipods, cell phones, etc...

    I dont see kids playing together much anymore, except skaters and those kids that dont have the means to have the gadgets. Something to be said for being poor. Forces you to get out!! hopefully in constructive ways.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  8. Jayne

    You should link this back to the obesity question recently asked. Kids need to go outside and play!

    January 21, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Real health risks. Obesity that can lead to diabetes,carpal tunnel in the wrists, eye problems,are among the problems children or adults can develop by spending too much "screen time." Children need physical activity to exercise their developing muscles and alternative types of entertainment. Go for a hike and learn about nature. Visit a museum or local historical society. Read a book. Play a sport. The worst case scenerio for children and too much "screen time" is them falling into the wrong type of online community which could ultimately cost the child their life. Parents Beware!

    January 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  10. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    I don't think there's any health risks that haven't be present during the lifespan of anyone alive today. This generation it's computer screens, before that it was televisions, and before that it was comic books. The psychological risks depend on the child. No one will know the level of risk there better than the parents.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  11. Kiran Mandava Atlanta,GA

    Nothing much. Just short of vision and look for an answer into the computer to every problem they confront in life. It can be an answer for 2 multiplied 2 equlas what?

    January 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  12. JR in Norfolk VA

    The risk is in them being turned into mindless Democrats by the liberal media!

    January 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  13. David of Alexandria VA

    Obviously, it depends on what they are doing, their age and their maturity. And whether there is enough diversity of experience in their days to make sure that they are learning about the real world as much as the virtual world.

    The internet is still the wild west as far as the ability to filter what you see to discern truth from fiction and fact from opinion. Adults oftentimes have a difficult time doing this - who knows what children absorb from the meteor shower which can batter them from cyberspace.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  14. John in Rohnert Park

    The risk is that our kids no longer know how to get out and explore the real world around them as we did as kids. Kids today no longer play ball anymore. They play simulated versions of real sports. They are rapidly losing the ability to play real sports and to learn to interact with each other in real life. Obesity levels are through the roof as well. Kids need to run . . . fall and get skinned knees again!

    January 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  15. AR(minneapolis, MN)

    Not criticism, just an observation...6hrs/day in the short course of childhood, is a tragic loss of physical activity, lack of social development in the REAL world(rather than cyberspace), and most importantly FRESH AIR! I envision a future world of numb, isolated, socially awkward, OBESE populations plagued by ADHD/ADD and medicated for so called mental/psychiatric conditions that likely could have been prevented by simple care of the human body and mind. Who cares if they will be more intelligent; the future looks grim at this point! I guess the cardiologists and psychiatrists will be on the economic "high" side of business as a result of our allowed "screen time".

    January 21, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  16. LUCI - ILLINOIS

    I don't think it is a good idea. I think they should be doing math, reading, spelling etc. out of their school books. We didn't have computers when I was a kid. The teacher went over and over things until the students understood and learned. It might help to go back to those times. I think we were sooooo much better off.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  17. vern-t anaheim,ca

    there were no computers to watch when i was a kid,we had little time for watching tv.we did our school homework and played with our friends,ate dinner with our parents and then get to watch a little tv before going to bed.i believe computer watching for all those hours are bad for the eyes

    January 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  18. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    Not counting the physical danger of staring into business end of the gun of a cathode ray tube for those computers that still have them, the social skills have no way to develop as evidenced by the “nerd” culture. They are social cripples, completely ignorant of how to function in society and around people – like me. Why do you think I respond to your blog almost every day Jack?

    January 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  19. Karen - Tennessee

    Jack, too many people think the world is flat without raising a whole generation in an artificial environment.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  20. Lucille Coogen Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: Simple---Obesity.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  21. Greg in Cabot Arkansas

    No risk, just preconditioning for life in their future where most everything is going to be digital images. New technology has brought us paper-less book-keeping, drafting, designing, accounting, purchasing, order forms and so on. There are computer screens in front of the junior high student selling you fries as well as on the desk of the CEO that owns the burger chain.
    They need to get used to it because that’s reality. I am 59 years old and spend most of my working day on the computer in front of the screen but I am able to do more work thanks to the many wonderful computer programs that make my job easier.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  22. Terry "the hillbilly Hooser"

    _______Jack,

    Anyone'not just children' that spends 6hrs./day doing exactly the same thing-will not be a balanced person. Like "stay sane for long.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  23. BRUCE, ST PAUL, MN

    Their butts will grow wide while their legs and arms atrophe.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  24. Terry from North Carolina

    Jack
    As long this six hour period is a learning experience and is closely monitored by the parents I would rather see them on the computor than watching mindless TV programs like the Situation Room with you and Wolf.

    January 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  25. Pete from Atlantic Highlands, NJ

    Adults who work or otherwise spend many hours per day in front of a computer screen can, and do, develop all sorts of physical problems, like carpal tunnel syndrome, vision problems, back/posture problems, and lots of others. Children are at least as susceptible to all these problems as adults are, and may not recognize them as problems when they occur. I'd be surprised if children were sufficiently trained to spend that much time in front of a computer without injuring themselves. I didn't even mention the problems associated with being sedentary for that long. Someone else can do that. How did we survive all of the ball-playing and other things we did because we didn't have a computer to vegetate in front of?

    January 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  26. Pearl, Sioux Falls

    They may become too smart?

    January 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  27. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Unfortunately, Jack, loss of exercise is a great problem. With the schools doing away with P.E etc, our children of today do not go
    out and play tag, climb trees. consequestly, obesity.
    In addition, believe computers and TV's have taken away imagination..
    Everything is before them and what a loss it is. Imagination was such a fun part of growing up.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  28. mac from traverse city Michigan

    Jack so many of our kids today cannot add or subtract numbers without a calculator since schools started letting them bring them to class. Six hours of computor time a day will take away their ability to think at all. Answering questions used to take thought now it takes clicks. Socializing used to take manners and interaction now it takes a facebook account. Eventually our children will just read about life on their computors and never experience it for theirselves.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  29. KarenB, Florida

    That's a tough one. Partly depends on what they are doing.
    Studying? looking up info?movies? playing games? chatting/blogging/? emailing? who are they associating with (possible bad folks lurking in chat rooms, etc?),
    I've found websites where you can read books, listen to music.

    what would they be doing otherwise? studying?playing games?movies? listening to music? reading? "partying" .. who are they associating with?
    sounds like many of the same worries either way.

    Before "computers" and the internet (remember when?) what did
    we all do?

    No easy answer, we have evolved into internetists, or we would not
    be here with Jack.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  30. jim handy

    First there is the obvious health risk. Achild spending that much time in front of a computer is probably not getting the exercise they need.Secondly, they are missing out on real life experiences they need as children. Children need to be allowed to grow up interacting and playing with other children. They learn a whole more about being a well rounded human being by real life experiences than they do from sitting in front of a computer.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  31. Randy from Salt Lake City

    The biggest problem is the bill from downloading porn.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  32. Jeff in Glen Carbon IL

    My mother had to deal with six kids and three grandparents while my Dad worked three jobs, so the TV was the baby sitter of choice. I watched more than six hours per day from the time I was six, (and still do nearly 50 years later). I think the quality, not the number of hours, is what is dangerous. I was not confronted with questionably adult material when I was growing up. It may not complete one's need for socialization, but it might be better than the options of video game-freak or internet-fetishist.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  33. Ron San Diego

    Hi Jack:

    They will turn into a blogger Zombie like ther rest of us!!

    Ron San Diego

    January 21, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  34. Pugas-AZ

    Verbal and hand written communication will suffer. I'm not a kid and it's aaaffecting meee. I can't hear your reply, I have my ear phones on.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  35. Tina (Texas

    It is bad for them but you are going to have to change their parents thinking and that won't happen.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  36. Larry, Ohio

    Jack,Fat,rude,the world owes me children!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  37. Dean in Macungie,PA

    Jack,

    If the children of America go to school for 6 – 7 hours a day and then spend another 6 hours on the computer/tv all that's left for them to do is eat and sleep, and people call this parenting. Now we know why the adults of this country don't know how to be sociable. I don't blame the children, I blame the parents.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  38. Pablo en Tejas

    Jack,
    biggest risk??? They might email you. Have you ever tried to answer a candid question from a 10 year old? I'd rather take on the entire Washington Press Corps.

    Pablo
    Arlington, Texas

    January 21, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  39. Billy G in Las Vegas

    the problem is that the kids end up with a sedentary lifestyle which leads to sloth and obesity. I'm waiting for the smart entrepreneur who combines a computer with a treadmill or stationary bicycle where the computer will only operate when the kid is walking or peddling. hook up a generator and you could even use the device to recharge a laptop.

    problem solved WITH energy savings.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  40. Roger from Espanola,New Mexico

    This has been the subject of many science fiction stories. Who knows for sure. At present, I am sure that this is partially to blame for much of the childhood obesity that exists today. I feel too that the more we live in an alternate world generated by the computer, that more we become out of touch with reality. Computer games, blogs, and e-mail don't provide the hard reality of hunger and famine in Africa, or the true social hardships headed our way from a worsening economy. If the trend gets worse, will our bodies turn into such a watery jello so as not to be able to support our brains? Perhaps the computer should be used like everything else,...in moderation!

    January 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  41. John

    Jack: Reading is very important. Time spend reading anything is better than reading nothing. Children make the greatest mistakes because thay do not read direction carefully and follow those directions. To master a computer you must be able to read and follow directions. Duh!! Research on the computer is 100% of reading with a picture or two mixed in with the script. But then I am a teacher what do I know.

    John from Alabama

    January 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  42. dennis northcarolina

    Jack, Just look at America for your answer. the majority of Americans under fifty years of age need a computer to think. I only use a computer to answer your questions and answer a few e-mails other wise i use my brain to think and my eyes to read a newspaper for informations. How about you Jack??????

    January 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  43. Brett Milam

    That's why I found it asinine that religious folks were condemning Harry Potter when that brought in every age group to read. That was a good thing. As a reader and writer myself, I find it disconcerning that more and more kids turn away from reading.

    -Brett
    Cincinnati, OH

    January 21, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  44. Jan Davis, Knoxville, TN

    Jack, it is a big risk to both their educational and social development. To me, it is also a waste of time. Watching CNN or other news network would be a smarter choice; even better, reading a book.
    I think, due to the many demands on parents and their having to work long hours to keep their heads above water in this economy, the games are often used as a babysitter.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  45. HD Taylor - Arizona

    A generation or two of this would yield some negative consequences for populations. As someone who has to work behind a computer screen for 6 or more hours a day, it kills my eyes and steals my energy by the end of the work day. If it was not for the after school martial arts programs that my family and I are involved in, the next consequence would be personal health manifestations, such as weight gain and who knows what else. Don’t get me wrong, the computer is important for a lot of jobs out there but I hate having to look at a computer screen for 6 hours a day and would much rather view content in printed format as it is much more forgiving on my eyes.

    HD in Phoenix, AZ

    January 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  46. Doug - Dallas, TX

    Take a look at the current generation of kids and you have your answer. Overweight and brain dead except for the games they play on the computer!

    January 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  47. Clay

    Hairy palms!!!

    January 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  48. Anthony Smith

    Jack;
    Since I watch CNN on TV and the computer, the only risk to my children watching the same is that they learn more about foreign and domestic affairs than George Bush ever did.

    Wildwood Crest, NJ

    January 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  49. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    I don't see it as a huge risk. They can gain so much knowledge and info on their computers now. But parents must make their children divide their time between the computer and other activities, such as outdoor play and exercise.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  50. Nancy, Tennessee

    If a child uses the internet to enhance their knowledge about a topic they heard about, then their education will be extensive. If children get on sites that only promote social interactions, they are in danger of becoming the most ignorant generation in American history. The computer can be a tool that makes our nation smarter or abused to the point of making a future generation of idiots. As with all things in life, moderation and common sense must be used when accessing the information highway.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  51. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    The main risk is for kids not developing the skills needed to say a complete sentence that makes any sense!

    January 21, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  52. Mike in St. Pete Beach, Florida

    Considering the comments I read on some blogs, I think the biggest risk is an entire generation of angry, bitter idiots.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  53. Christine, Thousand Oaks Ca

    They will get even fatter.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  54. Richard Sternagel

    How about the Collapse of the Education system as we know it. Books teach children how to think; while computers teach laziness.Our country needs to have thinking children or else the USA may lose its ability to compete globally.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  55. odessa

    it is very weird and annoying..as a parent, i would regulate how much time that my kids are allowed to spent on the computer..a computer is only to give you information about certain topics but you can teach your children about certain things when it comes to life issues..besides, i would limit my kids to read for 1 hour a day,2 hours of tv and 20 minutes on the internet..it's time to regulate on our children's education not the computer..

    January 21, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  56. Ryan, Galesburg, IL

    The risk is that this generation will lack the ability to discern information from propaganda, rendering its members unable to think through civic decisions that affect their lives. It's a cable news dream come true!

    January 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  57. Roy - Chicago IL

    It is ironic that someone in the media is asking this question, as the proliferation of the media in our lifetimes is the cause of this problem.
    News, shows, advertising, events.....all are designed to keep us all in front of the set or computer, as long as possible. Children are the innocent victims of this revenue generating machine we call TV and the media. Pure entertainment has turned into brand recognition and higher sales, while putting our children's importance behind the importance of the almighty dollar.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  58. karen-phoenix

    I work on a computer all day!!! It's way, way to much!!! In the last few years I've gained weight and feel listless!!! I retire in 3 months and intend to get up and MOVE!!! I will limite my time to just 1 hour a day!!!
    Sitting on your BUTT all day is NOT GOOD!!!

    January 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  59. Karen

    Kids today have no imagination or much ability to think for themselves. Their brains have been replaced with instant access to any bit of trivia they can find on the computer. They have no knowledge of research, spelling, grammar, or composition (the computer does it for them) and most of them can barely read. I respect the parent who monitors his child's computer use and teaches him to enjoy books.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  60. Annie, Atlanta

    The lack of reading and writing skills starts in early elementary school and has nothing to do with the internet, an incredible source of information and social networking. During the years when my kids should have been reading and writing book reports, they were creating art projects in shoe boxes in lieu of said book reports. Do you know what my HS senior had to do for his final project in Language Arts? A damn scrapbook! I'm not joking.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  61. Aaron B.; Champaign, IL

    Paul Scott of BEST LIFE magazine recently wrote: "With the convergence of technology that connects televisions, cell phones, and the web, kid-brand gurus have developed an unprecedented array of Trojan-horse methods to enter your kid’s head and capture his mind. What’s at stake is more than a few dollars, it’s the internal emotional adventure of childhood itself."

    I couldn't agree with him more.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  62. Kay in WV

    It's better that they spend 6 hours in front of a computer where there is at the very least interaction and socializing going on than that they spend 6 hours in front of the television.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  63. honest john in vermont

    Certainly too much TV will rot the kid's brains. Computer time? It really does depend on what they are doing at the computer, afterall they could possibly be reading? But probably not.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  64. Jay in Texas

    Jack, I have been an avid reader all of my life and believe my life has been much richer as a result. While there are many books online, I prefer reading the old-fashioned way – between two covers. The answer to this disturbing problem must rest in the hands of parents. How can a parent expect a child to develop a love of reading if the parents never set an example of reading themselves? Instead of buying the kid new computer gadgets or cellphones, why not buy them a few age-appropriate interesting books for birthdays and Christmas?
    Brownwood, Texas

    January 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  65. Hugh ~ Tracy, California

    Everything in moderation. Excess anything is bad for you. Kids who get too much "screen time" are generally overweight. Today, kids spend excess time indoors and don't get enough exercise.

    Back in the day, kids asked things like, "Dad, I need a new baseball bat," now it's, "I want my Playstation!" Yesterday, "Kick-the-Can" was a popular innovative activity, but that game will never make a comeback. Man, am I old.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  66. Jim/Greenboro

    What the kids are watching or reading is paramount in their development. You already see high school kids taking nude pictures of themselves and posting them on websites...not a good idea. In my view, one of the reasons that adults and kids are obese...remember your question regarding obesity, Jack...is watching tv or going online for hours at a time.. Like your MTV generation, with their tattoo's, piercings, sexual revolution, awful music, etc., we will be raising fat, lazy, intellectually challenged kids. God help us!!

    January 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  67. Hope M. Madisonville, KY

    My 13 year old daughter is on the honor roll. She does her homework as soon as she gets home. She watches 1 hour of television and
    spends her down time either texting friends or on the computer.
    Either way, she is writing and reading as she uses the computer.
    She also skate boards and roller skates. It's a matter of balancing
    the time you have between sedentary and active activities. Parents have to parent and make sure their kids have a balance.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  68. Sandy

    We will all see when it is too late! Too much of anything is not good and books have always been a growth tool. The words are formed into pictures by the brain and we have to work a little to fine tune the picture...it is easier when the picture is there and that stifles creativity and imagination.

    Sandy
    Texarkana, Arkansas

    January 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  69. Melanie, Germany

    I am one those kids who started with computers around the age of 10, and grew addicted to it. I am 22 today. I spent many hours on the computer, though it didn't stop me from reading. I either read books until very late at night or I am reading on the internet – yes because the beauty is you can download books on the internet and read them on the computer.... However, I see some of these kids that don't even know how to write properly : netspeak is the next form of talking and my eyes hurt painfully every time I see it .

    January 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  70. lou

    My kids have actually started reading more since they've discovered the internet and video games. My 14 year old son devours any written word about his games from strategy books to participating in blogs. My 12 year old daughter googles every day. As a teacher, I used to worry about it...until they both started testing at well above grade level in reading comprehension. The way we give and get information in our world is undergoing a major transformation. Books may be going the way of the transister radio...but it doesn't mean we quit learning to read or listen to music. Our kids are just keeping up with the times in which we live.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  71. Gerry In Toronto

    Computers and the internet are not going away. The problem isn't the kids being on for 6 hours per day-it's the parents aren't sitting beside them and training them what to do, what the guidlines are and how to properly use these resources.

    Some of the best reading, writting and arithemtic lessons are on-line, but useless if the parents aren't giving the kids proper guidance or setting proper rules.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  72. Betty, San Diego, Ca.

    Too much of anything is not good. Children spending six hours a day in front of a computer screen is a bit much. Research papers, and essays may require some computer time, but six hours a day is definitely out of balance.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  73. Daniel, Indiana

    It is proof that the world of commercialism, the business world, is winning the battle of dumbing people down. They are succeeding in selling their products to people and getting them completely wrapper up in them. Our capitalist society is becoming the commercial world that people have demanded.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  74. Gigi in Alabama

    They may not want to read, but teachers require kids to read a certain number of books from their accelerated reading program per marking period. The risk that I see is that you'll have to put glasses on them because of eye strain if they spend that much time in front of a computer screen.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  75. Pat,Lexington, Ky.

    Social isolation.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  76. Jay-San Antonio

    Reading is more than fundamental, it is key to developing well reounded people, and all leaders read. My children read approximately 6-10 hours a week, I read about the same. i remind them that well skilled, well educate people read, and those who dont read work at McDonalds and they are not the manager either. If America does not return to reading we will find that we will continue to sink lower academically. Yes we have free schools and great opportunity, however, what does that mean if our children and adults do ot take advantage of it. CNN reported that while the unemployment rate is over 7% the unemployement rate of college grads is around 3%. This alone should be enough said.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  77. Sue from Redwood City

    The risk is: Obesity! Obesity! Obesity! Children should be outside playing, not in front of screens as a subsitute babysitter for lazy parents.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  78. Paul S. Columbia, SC

    One thing for sure; it's impossible to play too many sports.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  79. Jack - Lancaster, OH

    Jack:

    Do you mean the computer view-time at school as well?

    Jack

    January 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  80. V.K. Raman, Sparks

    Computer increases the increases the creativity of the children if the time alloted for computer access is limited to 1 to 2 hours a day.

    January 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  81. Kellie, PA

    1. An inability for childrento think for themselves.

    2. Too many overweight children due to inactivity.

    3. Children with low reading stamina since everything has to be over-antimated.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  82. Meg Ulmes

    Jack–
    I think kids don't have to use either their imaginations or their bodies when they sit too long in front of any screen–tv, computer, or video games. They are missing part of their lives and the development of skills in sports and creativity. It's time to get a better balance in kid's lives. There should be room for many different activities.

    Troy, Ohio

    January 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  83. Linda in Arizona

    Controlled minds and obesity. I'm so glad I don't have children.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  84. angel in Louisiana

    If your child spends too much time on the computer, pull the plug.
    Take them to the library, to a musem or a hike around the park.
    Pick out something they enjoy and do it with them. Find something you can do together on your computer. Photography can be fun as well as searching for your ancestors. My grandson and I just spent an hour using our computer to identify a strange insect that we found in our back yard.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  85. Mike, Syracuse NY

    The risk is that with 2/3rd of americans already overweight or obese, we are well on the way to increasing that statistic.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  86. garrick

    hi jack
    it means they need to be spending time reading to them but parents just dont want to be parents anymore
    clearwater,fl

    January 21, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  87. David Gerstenfeld, Las Vegas

    "The meek & the weak will inherit the US'. Computers, et al, have become the cheap babysitters for bad parenting. It does create jobs for psychologists!
    David

    January 21, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  88. Jeff Crocket

    Eye strain! Children actually read on the internet too!!

    January 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  89. john marlton NJ

    The risk is that they won't watch more traditional media like say TV and CNN... So what is wrong with that

    January 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  90. Tom Bulger

    Cultural Autism. Children who grew up in isolation from humans such as the wolf boy of India never were able to make up for lost time and never really learned language. Socialization is not instinctive. It is learned, . .. or not.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  91. Phil from TX

    Two Words.....You Tube

    January 21, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  92. Karen - Missouri

    First of all, this is NOT the U.K. And I have a problem with some study that says the kids spend 6 hours a day...excuse me? Just when do they go to school? And they DO use books in school. I really don't believe in this study very much...more fear tactics?

    January 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  93. George

    I don"t know how to put this in words, but living with a 24 hour a day internet , and TV junkie isn't my piece of cake. It is something that needs to be dealt with. especially with children before they turn their life into a professional remote holder....

    January 21, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  94. Lewis Walker

    This is not a surprise. This is a set-up. God allowed America to suffer under economic conditions; so He could raise Obama up to touch the hearts of the American people. He (Obama) ran the race where there could only be one winner, and now he has the prize-President of the United States of America!

    January 21, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  95. frankie

    What's the risk of playing outside if both of your parents are at work and you live in a really bad part of town?

    January 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  96. Robert in Galveston

    TV time, video game time, computer time, but no time to play outside or get their homework done or read a book. No wonder this country is going to the dogs (sorry, dogs). Put physical education back into schools, have parents limit time in front of the boob tube (or computer screen) and teach the kids to read, write and spell (not text).

    January 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  97. Ken in NC

    Spending that amount of time on line a day takes from the time kids need to interact with other kids and when they are in a situation where they will have to interact, they will have no idea of how to act.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  98. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    The internet is a marvelous tool. Used properly, it is a great source of information right at our fingertips. The parents must take the reins and establish common sense rules. Kids will always need supervision and discipline, and there is far too little of that in today's society. If everyone around them lowers their standards and makes exceptions, then yes, we and our kids are in big trouble.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  99. Lesley L.

    Funny how we blame the internet and television for the decline in book reading in our children. The problem is that kids are driven way too hard academically. Today's children are driven and are overscheduled. After all that homework, projects and testing....who wants to spend time reading a book? They need a break. The internet and television gives them a break from the constant hounding for achievement. What we should be concerned about is when this generation will implode.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  100. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    It will put authors, like you out of business and it stifles their imaginations. How will they ever learn to think?

    January 21, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  101. Oregon Wally Las Vegas Nevada

    wasn't there a movie once about the machines taking over ?

    January 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  102. Karen in CA

    Losing the ability to think.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  103. Ed

    Redings oerated

    January 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  104. Cori from Colorado

    Even though many of us may sit at a computer for 8 hours to do our jobs, it requires us to think. We have to communicate with others via emails, reports, presentations, etc. Creating spread sheets, and pie charts, calculating formulas, and giving a clear understanding of spending or savings is essential, which is where our communication skills and knowledge come into play. Kids don't have to do this, they "play" on the computer.

    My boyfriend has his kids on weekends, and when its time for homework, or we have them read for 1 hour, all they do is cry, whine, complain and come up with excuses. It's like pulling teeth. Kids are getting lazier and lazier, and dumber and dumber...their report cards are proof!

    January 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  105. Gigi

    Six Hours a day? wow!! Eight hours for school five days a week. When do they interact with family, friends, eat , bath, read, home work, TV and talk on there cell phone. And get 8 hrs sleep a night. No wonder our children have lower test score than other countries. Could it be bad parenting or no parenting at all.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  106. STAN - PEKIN, IL.

    It is one of the worst things kids can do is to spend hours on a computer. They should be listening to their teachers and learning math, english, reading, and spelling. Computers should be off limits until they are 18 years old.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  107. Tyler, Iowa

    The greatest danger of too much screen time is that children will become accustomed to a distorted reality.

    Television and the Internet presents a world where violence is acceptable, athletes worship fast food, the White House website condones explicit sexualism (it's .gov, people, NOT .com), and feats that realistically take a long time, even years, to accomplish (such as singing well) appear feasible within minutes, and it's better to communicate quickly than correctly, m i rite?

    There are definitely benefits to our connected society, but parents and teachers must use computers and television as tools, not as surrogates.

    Thank you.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  108. David in Raleigh, NC

    Seeing that our generation saw the coyote go over the cliff several times without causing a mass suicide jump over the cliff. I think our kids are okay with TV and the Internet.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  109. Michael, Pensacola, FL

    So true, kids don't know what a book is outside of school. The only thing that the Great Depression II might bring back would be the need to read for entertainment!

    January 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  110. Lynn, San Diego County

    We have already seen the results of 6 hours a day in front of the television, you'd think it wouldn't take a genius to figure out the negative results of too much un-supervised Internet – and I'd be interested in the stats on cell-phone use by children – we live in a world where human communication is vital but all this technology is removing the humane aspect – .

    January 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  111. Carol in California

    Reading instills in us discipline. It prompts us to use our imagination, improves our vocabulary, strengthens our patience in waiting for outcomes, and requires us to spend some time in quiet solitude.

    Six hours in front of a computer screen is excessive and could possibly lead to non-participation in real life or the opposite, which is the need for constant stimulation and instant gratification in all things.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  112. Karl from SF, CA

    Kids staring at anything for six hours a day is bad. Five of those hours should be family time or with friends in a social situation. Kids today are becoming more and more isolated and lazy. We need to raise our kids better.

    January 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  113. Lynn

    I don't really know if I agree that being on the computer is so bad, depending on what the child is doing. My children have learned a lot over the years by having supervised access to info. on the Internet. It is important, though, to be a parent and limit the use. I doubt that the sky will fall if we fail at it once in a while, though.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  114. Phlegon

    I agree there needs to be more book reading instead of movie watching everyday people go to the movies instead of reading a book and actually getting the full,i think thers nedds to be something done cause books are to good.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  115. Ralph Nelson

    I had depression as a kid so my parents hide me in the basement. There was my mom's extensive library (a whole rooms worth) so I read, and read, and read. In college I never got less than A- on all written reports and was cited six times for excellance, graduated 3.5 GPA.. Than I applied for 4,500 jobs and got my first job offer 32 years and 326 college credits later. So I copyrighted 217 songs and wrote a novel with my education and live in poverty. In other words...DONT WORRY ABOUT IT. Employers do not want educated people. Educated people stupid flipping hamburgers and selling underwear. Ralph, Yakima, Wa.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  116. Maria

    Oh well they'll probably have crappy vision and need glasses...that's what happened to me...

    January 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  117. Lisa, Ashford, Alabama

    In 1994 I bought my only child, an 8 year old, a $1800 IBM pc. It was filled with educational games. In 1995 we got on the Internet. He was head and shoulders above his classmates with information access.
    He is a voracious reader due to that IBM and got a degree in the Chinese language in 2008. He is now perfecting his Mandarin in China as I write this.

    Its up to the parents to show their children how to spend their time and quit blaming technology for their shortcoming as parents.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  118. peggy

    I am a teacher (high school) and can say that few, if any, of my students read for pleasure anymore. None- NONE- of their families discuss literature, read aloud together, follow the stories of their favorite authors or go to book stores on a family outing. At the beginning of every school year, I ask my students numerous questions about their reading habits and their relationship to books. Most of the kids and their families do not have too many books in their homes. They do not share books, laugh about them, cry over them. And yes, they spend a lot of time on line, playing games and shopping, checking out their friends' MySpace pages and looking at music videos. The only subjects I can get my students to read about relate to addiction issues, sex, abuse and what it is like to be in jail. Most of my work is focused on finding poems, plays, essays and memoirs that they WILL read...and enjoy. They ARE there. But you have to look for them. I am proud to say that many of my students HAVE found a book to LOVE, much to their surprise, but it takes a lot of matchmaking as a teacher to make this happen.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  119. fancyfortunecookies

    Very good article. My brother has a video game and tv addiction. As a result he also has an eating addiction and weighs over 250 lbs even though he is only 14! TV and video games, whether systems or computers are a huge problem in today's culture. Kids should be playing and using their MIND in the form of imagination. Imagination builds SO many skills and seems to be becoming a lost art.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  120. Dianne Morrison, Ohio

    The risk is promoting a generation that can not read, or a generation who are not able to think for themselves or problem solve. Also, six hours of television and or video games a day, will leave us with a generation without social skills. Parents should know what their children are watching and how often. There should be limits. If there are no limits, it is neglect, almost as bad as naming your son Aldoph Hitler. Parents are not thinking of their children.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  121. SHIRLEY-OHIO

    My children are only allowed on the computer for an hour a day unless their doing homework and 9 out of 10 their not homework. But, I guess the risks would be the same as an adult having to work in front of a computer for 6+ hours (10-12 for me)? Let see headaches, backaches, blurred vision, double vision and I can go on and on.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  122. Greg, Ontario

    I would argue that how can you use the internet if you can't read or write. I see kids now that can type faster and more accurately than most secretaries. You can always find a negative to anything Jack especially if you do it in a government sponsored study. The only real risk I see is parents are losing interaction time with the kids. They don't bug mommy and daddy with annoying or sometimes embarrassing questions, they just go online and find it.

    January 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  123. Judie Williams

    How about parents engaging the children in conversation ? TURN THE DAMN MACHINES OFF.......set a time limit when they are on.
    Encourage children to journal.

    The heart stopper for parents would be to access the various sites their children post God knows what. Perhaps the last book the majority of children read was Harry Potter.

    Each family should take parental responsibility for their children, and set loving and firm guidelines. Would you give your child a car when knowing the brakes are faulty ?

    January 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  124. Barbara Milton

    Alas, a benefit of being poor...no computers, no conflict with computers sapping away time with parents. However, the same dumbing down with tv occurs across all socioeconomic classes.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  125. Roland

    What's the risk of allowing them to spend 6 hrs a day reading a book? They come out well read, but with no social skills.

    Roland
    St. George, UT

    January 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  126. Larry D.

    Jack,

    The future and technology is upon us its tough there are some hard working families that just dont pay attention enough to there children or don't have the time to spend with them so they have nothing better else to do but watch tv or play video games. I believe in the near future were gonna need video game couselors just like we have psychologists for depression and anxiety. More education is the key here about the dangers of watching too much tv or video games.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  127. Henry Myers

    I read somewhere that babies who watched "Little Einstein" were actually dumber than those who didn't. I think that screen time needs to be controlled, so that when they do watch television they tune into the news instead. Video games also need to be moderated.

    Henry Myers,
    Saint Louis, Missouri

    January 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  128. Daniel Homestead, FL

    I'm the parent of a beautiful, flamboyant, six-year girl that spends a leisure amount of time on the computer while her mother, a stay-at-home Mom keeps a watchful eye on her web-site viewing.

    She also watches a lot of TV, but its mostly children's programs, and only when she finishes her homework. I have a part-time work-from-home job on the computer at night and the best thing when I finish my job at 9pm, is spending at least an hour at night playing games with my daughter, running around the house with her, and yes, even reading to her. Something I've been doing with her everyday from the time she was born till the time she started school. She likes books cause it reminds her of spending time with her Daddy.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  129. Mike

    Theres nothing wrong with letting a child spend 6+ hours in front of a computer. As long as there other responsibilities are taken care of before they sit down on the computer.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  130. Michael Demmons

    Oh PLEEZE Jack. Is this reely a big enough issue to be feetured on the Cafertee file? Shurely their are more importent issues.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  131. Val, Grand Prairie, TX

    Too much "screen time" for children? Not at all, Jack; it prepares them for their working adult life, which also will be spent in front of a computer screen.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  132. Bob Pomeroy

    We need to eradicate the NCLB, double teachers' salaries to place them reasonably comfortably in the middle class, and leave them alone to teach students accoring to their ability to learn. NCLB is meant to dumb down education and discredit it, while lining the pockets of efucational materials companies. Accoutrements do not teach, teachers teach.
    I'm not a teacher and have never been employed in that profession.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  133. George

    The result of spending 6 hours staring at a computer screen?? That will mean he's still two hours short of an 8 hour workday that MOST of us have to do!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  134. Rashad Turner

    Jack, there is nothing wrong, they will be able to work for CNN!!!!!! :)
    I always see the laptops up and running !! LOL

    Rashad
    Minnsota

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  135. Jonathan

    Hi Jack,

    Sounds like the "TV will rot your brain" slogan our parents used to tell us, just dressed up for the 21st century. We compete in this world just fine.

    Oh... wait.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  136. Myc

    The biggest risk is that they will have superior computer skills and ability to leverage internet utilities. Not so bad in my opinion.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  137. grady early

    Jack

    They're in danger of becoming CNN commentators.

    cheers
    grady

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  138. Ian, Las Vegas

    If anything it's bad for their eyes.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  139. Penny C

    I find it interesting that you are asking the viewers of CNN to go to cnn.com and comment in your "Blog".

    That would mean that you are expecting a large group of your viewers to be near a computer while watching your show. (Yep, I am).

    Children learn what their parents teach them. If parents started turning the computers off (and I dare say, the TV...sorry, CNN) maybe their kids would too!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  140. Shannon

    Jack, I think it is a deep oversight to assume "screen" indicates a failure to read and learn. I am a young adult and I spend much time reading CNN.com. This would count as a "screen" does this not count as reading?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  141. Paul Fennewald

    Simply put, the danger is they will become idiots. Sorry, but I think it is true as I watch the young ones these days.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  142. Larry Thacker

    Bill Gates will steal their souls and instead of becoming the children of the corn they will become the children of the Apple..

    Warning this blog requires screen time...WARNING! WARNING!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  143. John

    If the kids want to play video games, be on the computer or watch tv, then let them. Just make sure there not getting fat eating junk food all of the time.

    John
    Washougal, Wa

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  144. Frank Hedin

    It's a free country, not Germany circa 1939. If parents allow their children to spend this kind of time in front of the TV, that is their choice. We don't need Cafferty or anyone else telling us how to raise our children.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  145. Shem, Brooklyn NY

    Performance in schools will continue to drop because kids are becoming more disconnected from the real world.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  146. Andrew Gianola

    When television hit the seen on a massive level, parents became nervous that it would damage the education of the youth. As we see today, kids who grew up watching a lot of tv are doing just fine in the real world, and I assume that the kids spending a lot of time on the internet will end up just the same, if not better, due to the infinitely increased capacity for knowledge the internet has over television or a single book.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  147. Chris

    Allowing those kids that don't to rule the world in twenty years.

    Chris
    Cranbury, NJ

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  148. Jean L

    The art of the book is one thing. But thanks to the Guttenburg Project (Google) and many other paid and free sites, many books are in the internet. Journals certainly are. There will always be people who love the feel of a book but the book has gone the way of the newspaper for many. Many publishers will print hard copy of out of print books. The only problem for long screen hours – hard to settle down at night.

    Geneseo
    New York

    January 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  149. Cori Peters

    I guess people used to write on stone before books.. Now they type.. Its called the future. havent you seen Star Treck?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  150. Joseph

    I'm an adult living in the 'adult world' and I spent much more than 6 hours a day in front of a screen – a good part of that is required for my job. The 'adult world' of today and tomorrow involves screens – not paper – and it's about time people started getting used to that fact.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  151. Nathalie

    If intelligence was measured in hours, it would be six hours lost in gaining new information. In effect, this would be equivalent to a child missing an entire day of school!! So parents, dont let them spend hours on the computer or watching t.v. FORCE them to pick up a book. If not, you might as well let them skip school!! Thanks Jack!!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  152. Jimmy

    They risk being prepared for jobs like mine. Adults spend all of their time in front of screens, why would kids be any different?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  153. Tyler Fogle

    It's not going to be a problem for kids, they spend so much time reading things online and with the invention of ebooks it won't be hard for kids to switch over and continue to read. Technology will continue to be a part of these kid's lives as they grow. We are moving away from books and into the digital world so as soon as more books are available as ebooks kids will continue to read.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  154. John Ford

    none. how much of that time do you think kids are reading? I read constantly while on the internet and tv. I am top of my class and have a 4.137 GPA and spend at least that looking at screens. Besides, this is a blog. How many of you bloggers spend much less time on the internet yourselves.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  155. Ifandbut

    It DOES NOT MATTER if kids read books or read the computer screen. Books are out dated. Why would you want to waste the raw materials and shelf space on something that big when you can fit an encyclopedia in the space of a penny.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  156. Jeff

    Jack,
    I am a 54 year old mid level executive and spend almost eight hours each day at a computer terminal. I have managed teams of more than 30 people globally all from my home office. The issue is not that kids spend six hours looking at screens, it is what they do while looking at the screens.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  157. Jim

    If you responded to this your doing the same thing!!!
    Pick up a book!!!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  158. Affy from California

    Jacky boy, the screen is responsible for my generation being more active in politics and society. If it wasnt for all our "screen use" the youth wouldn't have been so involved in the election of our 44th. And lets face it, you and wolf educate me more than a text book would.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  159. Amy Moore

    As a mother of four it is VERY important in our home to limit internet / computer acitivity. My husband and I truly believe that our children would lack vital social skills and abilities that they need to survive in the "real" world if they were given free and open access to the internet. Moderation is key and 6 hours per day is NOT moderation!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  160. amit

    I am going to throw it straight on the face – These kids will become the future morons of the century if parents do not keep and eye !!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  161. no boomer

    Six hours is only bad when the time is not used constructively!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  162. eric thorensen

    The risk is that there might be more people to listen to Rush Limbaugh

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  163. Neeraj

    We need to consider that the tools of education are evolving. What used to be delivered by books yesterday, will be delivered by tubes tomorrow. We understand that spending 6 hours in front of these tubes is not good, but the message has to be looked at with some context to the evolution of education delivery.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  164. Karen

    I think that this report is wrong. My teenage daughter and her friends read books more than my friends and I did 35 yrs ago. It is true that the internet takes up a lot of teens time, but we did not have the internet and did not read more books than the kids today. We didn't have the internet but we had other activities.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  165. Ryan Hartman

    It would seem to me that 6 hours of anything would be excessive. The development and habits of children rests on the shoulders of the parents and the structure they provide.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  166. eugene

    risks are huge but can you afford a cheaper sitter?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  167. Nina

    well, they will only be socially and mentally challenged and won' tget a decent job, but that's it. Nothing big.
    .

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  168. Roberto from Florida

    Well, the risk for kids is only getting blind by the brightness of the screen. Other than that I really don't see any real risk. It also depends on what they're looking at. I spend a lot of time on the computer, but I mainly read up on news and events. If anything, the parents should do something about this. Or at least be aware of it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  169. CaptSaltyJack

    Too much "screen time"? That's like saying "are kids spending too much time looking at paper?" Book content varies, just as screen content varies. So what if they spend 6 hrs in front of the computer? What they're DOING in front of the computer is what matters. There's a wealth of information there. I spent a large portion of my teen years in front of the computer, and I'm a highly successful individual. It's about that grey mass between a person's ears, not how much computer time they log per week.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  170. Kenneth from GA

    Nothing. As a product of child at the beginning of personal computers, I've had no problems with reading or communicating to my peers. Again, this is an example that parents of this generation must monitor what their kids look at. My parents did and I'm a productive citizen of this country.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  171. Alex Dedes

    Children who spend six hours a day in front of the tv or Internet run the risk of succumbing to subliminal direction, should any governmental or other entity wish to exploit them.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  172. Beth

    I believe that the issue is not the screen, but what children are DOING in front of the screen. For example, since I was 18, I have had multiple ebooks on my computer. They are less expensive than buying a physical book and, I feel, better for the environment. I also play logic games that encourage me to think out problems. I almost never watch television and rarely play non-thinking games.

    Parents need to know what their children are doing in front of the screen. It is not the time. It is the activity.

    Do people honestly think that children were reading books so very much more instead of playing games with their peers prior to electronic games?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  173. Kenneth

    I'm 13 and training to get my single engine VFR pilots licence and I use Microsoft Flight Simulator on the computer to train. I also use this to look at news like I am doing now.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  174. Lisa

    I think is a wonderful idea for some kids that don't have a chance to learn their history in school.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  175. Steven Durst

    Jack, What happened to the good old days where your parents made you go outside and do something constructive instead of being in front of the tube all day? Doesnt that apply today as well with Pcs and videos. Could it be the parents are the ones getting mushy? Oh help us when the other countries exceed our next generation of adults.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  176. Jacob

    This is a problem that is unavoidable with the embrace of technology in the household, but when the screen becomes the babysitter or the best friend of the child, then that is a result of poor parenting and a lack of constructive interaction within the family.

    Jacob from New York

    January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  177. eva johnson

    The kids will have backproblens, no face to face interaction, eating problems. Psychological problems.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  178. Jean L

    New Comment! The art of the book is one thing. But thanks to the Guttenburg Project (Google) and many other paid and free sites, many books are in the internet. Journals certainly are. There will always be people who love the feel of a book but the book has gone the way of the newspaper for many. Many publishers will print hard copy of out of print books. The only problem for long screen hours – hard to settle down at night.

    Geneseo
    New York

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  179. callie

    Do you see the irony in asking this question on television and being asked to respond on a computer?
    I suppose this is the way we communicate and get information these days...

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  180. Gregory Daulton

    Jack,
    The Internet may become a cyber-community for a child. A place where everything is virtual. 6 hours a day in a virtual world doesn't leave much time for the real world. Sleep 8 hours, school 8 hours, Internet 6 hours, reality 2 hours. You do the math.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  181. BonnieJ

    My teen, who's 17, reads lots of books, and writes whenever she has a free moment on her PC (even has a blog). I don't think she's lost the reading habit, BUT... it's been bad for her socially. She prefers her virtual friends it seems (not dirty old guys) from her blog with whom she corresponds regularly rather than real people.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  182. Tyler

    The risk is that they will grow up and be competent and capable computer programmers, video game developers, digital artists, and TV broadcasters. All jobs that will be increasingly important as society becomes even more digitized. I agree, kids need to go out and play, but there is certainly nothing wrong with being interested in the digital realm over books. Worked for me.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  183. Andrian Harsono

    Hi Jack, there are two distinct positives with watching TV and playing computer games; they improve your eye-hand coordination and also help you exercise your sense of imagination which is ultimately important in technological innovation. Admittedly, watching TV at the expense of social interactions is bad and should be discouraged.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  184. Richard, Brooklyn NY

    I have to point out the irony here, anyone who asserts that there is some kind of "risk" in allowing kids to spend hours in front of computer screens while at the same time voicing thier opinion while on a computer is being down right silly! Its a new age. Books while ever important are just going extinct. Eventually nearly all books will be digital thats just technological darwinism at work. Deal with it!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  185. Travis Thornton

    I find it odd that in order to answer this question, people had to log on to the loathesome computer for which the aforementioned vitriol has been directed.

    Remember, though, it's not the kids' fault. Parents simply need to be parents and police their own children.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  186. Braz, Scotland

    Think you should stop worrying jack everyone i know spends that amount of time on "screen" and they are all good people. Bad people can read books too

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  187. James From Scottsdale

    Well being a teenager myself, I try to limit leisure time on the computer and internet for simple reasons like reading and writing skills. I think that the computer and internet like so many technologies have only served to dumb people down and allow for simple access to information and tools that would have taken skilled individuals to access in the past. Only time will tell the full effect of our increasingly digital world, but I do believe that it is societies job to establish learning fundamentals that are not learned on the computer.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  188. Paige (Washington)

    Well Jack, I'm a kid, and if I am ever to spend six hours in front of a screen, its bound to be tuned into CNN. My television set seems to be chronically programmed to channel 44.......

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  189. Tom

    The kids are not getting the fresh air and exercise they need. They will be having heart attacks by the time they are 40.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  190. Dave

    It is already showing in the work place. The younger employees have no work ethics nor a concern on what will happen later in life! Why dont we just teach the kids!!! Not buy whatever they want!!

    Dave
    Kansas

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  191. Shaun

    The risk is that we will be creating a generation of fat, physically lazy and socially inadequate people. There's something to actually being able to move, if not athetically, at least somewhat balanced. As my parents used to say to my generation "we are making kids weaker and wiser" though I question the wiser part. There is something to actually being able to voice words to people as opposed to typing. People such as our new President will harder to find, as they are great at typing words, but useless in voicing those words.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  192. Deanna

    You cant blame a child for having fun. A child should be able to do what he or she pleases with there spare time, as long as it is within the law. You really cant shove all this new technology in a childs face and then expect him or her to turn around and go do homework instead. It is not our fault you introduced this technology to us.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  193. J Scott Sayles

    Obesity, back and posture problems, inactivity...... BTW..... Yesterday must have been a great day because I saw Wole Blitzer crack a smile. It's true, I swear it...........

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  194. Adam Nicolais, Syracuse NY

    Jack,

    Just make sure their work is finished before! After-all, we are all just as bad as them, spending time snooping around political sites! Let the children enjoy the new age of technology! Remember when we spent too much time playing pong?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  195. Nic

    When your online you are always reading things. So its just the same as reading a book. Like it is any better to read a book for 6 hours a day anyways.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  196. Deanne

    While I agree that most kids today have forgotten about real books in favour of the internet, my 15 year old son gives me hope that all is not lost. I have to look for the thickest book possible when buying him books. He reads them within a week at most. My son (who is a internet junkie) will never lose his love of real books. There is something about opening a brand new book that the internet can never compete with. Maybe it's the smell, maybe it's the knowledge that you're the first one to read those pages or break the spine...either way...I don't think real books can ever be replaced by technology.

    Deanne
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  197. Jide Rotilu

    the choice is they either get dumber, or get smarter, so the risk is a 50% chance of having a dumb kid or an informed kid, which do you really want. Track your kids activities but still allow a little freedom but 360 hrs infront of the screen doing nothing and just moving from one social network to another is just pathetic.

    Rotilu from NIGERIA

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  198. Elsa

    Yes, children are no longer reading nor do they see the importance of reading. I am an English in Dallas, TX and it saddens me on a daily basis to know that I teach 10th graders who read on a 5th grade level. When I try to enforce an at-home reading list parents shoot me down. So if this movement against reading starts from home then there is no hope.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  199. kris dorsey

    Kids today are more likely to download pornographic materials than
    use the internet for home work etc...

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  200. Michael Baumeister (Paris)

    Not worse then kids spending 6 hours in front of TVs.

    How was it back then when we had only TV? I believe, even too much of something is always critical, that today, kids are more active, know more about whats going on in the world, thanks to the Internet and today they seemed to be more creative more aware.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  201. Curtis

    Besides carpal tunnel syndrome nothing Jack.....nothing

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  202. Cheryl

    My 14 yr old grandson is not allowed 6 hours a day on the computer. He also reads on an adult level and has since he was 8 years old. He and my son read the same si-fi books which usually have more then one story line in them so you really have to keep on your toes to keep track. Parents need to control the computer!!! There is no need for TV or the computer to take up that much of a childs time. That time should be spent with the parents!!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  203. lhr in kannapolis nc

    We are going to end up with another generation (s) of ignoramuses. The chinese and japanese make most of the technology for us but they ensure that their children are intellectually groomed. Wake up America.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  204. David Post

    The risk is that we are raising a generation of depressed, illiterate children, who run an increased risk of obesity, attention deficit disorder, and an inability to tolerated difficulty or frustration, putting them an a real disadvantage for acquiring the cutting-edge, high level skills we're going to need in the coming years

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  205. Molly Takeda

    Jack,

    Every day I fight the battle with school administrators, teachers, parents and kids regarding our completely inadequate comprehension of the impact of technology on our children. I am no Luddite, in fact, I am emailing you now as someone with (really) 20 year of experience on the internet! But what we are doing to our minds, our relationships, our society is distancing ourselves from real learning. Parents are the worst – in complete denial about how all the techno-crap they expose their children to is not somehow affecting their minds. Good luck to you or anyone who spits in this wind.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  206. CHAVONTAE WILLIAMS

    I think that children do spend too much time on computer screens but they do that cause most parents do not monitor there children enough so kids like playing games and doing social chats such as myspace.Instead of actually doing there work and looking at the screens all day can cause bad vision and decrease time studying.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  207. Pincy

    Interesting question, Jack. I'll try to come up with an answer after I finish watching CNN and sending you emails.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  208. Cori Peters

    People used to write on stone. then in books, Now on the internet. Its called the future. Havent you seen Star trek ?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  209. Sarah

    I find that kids do spend too much time online, but there is a good social worth of the internet, I am an eighteen year old and I use my internet social time to talk to my friends who are in international territories. It's a good life skill to be able to communicate outside your own community, especially when the world is becoming so interconnected.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  210. Steve - Ohio

    So Jack, your asking us, from a TV show, to go on a computer and type into a blog the dangers of looking at screens for too long? Does this mean that we shouldn't write in to you anymore?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  211. Mike

    The biggest risk, Jack, is to Shakespeare. Imagine, "2B r not 2B. dats da ?shun."

    Mike
    Tallahassee, FL

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  212. K2

    I don't fathom the problem. It's a different kind of "book," and the skills derived (i.e., reading and writing) are both included and transferable to the written form.

    Los Angeles, CA

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  213. Ed

    They'll fail my English class.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  214. James

    Just because children are being raised differently than us, doesn't mean they will be any less capable. Books are simply becoming obsolete now that the internet has advanced enough to supply ebooks, online encyclopedias, and other reference materials.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  215. Chuck

    No risk, kids are growing up in the digital age. Every digital influence should use their advantage to educate and influence children in positive ways.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  216. Ricky Hayberg

    It all depends on what the kids are doing or watching while looking at these screens, soon enough there won't be a hard copies of text readily available, they will still exist but no as they have in the past. Its not the medium that matters, its the content. I spend far more than 6 hours a day looking at screens, and i would say at least 75% of what i do is productive and I am constantly learning things i would have never even attempted to learn about from paper. I think a more productive thing to do would be to embrace the digital revolution instead of trying to supress it, and leave it up to the parents to monitor and control what their kids are seeing regardless of where its coming from.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  217. Mark

    Jack–
    If kids in the UK spend 6 hours, kids in the US spend 8. I teach eleventh grade English, and the idea that they won't be able to compete in the adult world isn't a threat–it's reality. These kids, due to their addiction to "screens" and also standardized testing (read: minimum competency), are incapable of doing anything but recognizing the correct answer on a multiple choice test, and you and I are old enough to know that life ain't multiple choice. When the tax payers find out "how poorly" parents have failed the schools by sending bleary-eyed, fatigued children to school who struggle to have the energy to sleep from the previous night's texting extravaganza, hopefully we'll overhaul the NCLB act to require actual academic skills instead of a very pretty, albeit false, window-dressing. This isn't a school issue, Jack, once and for all: this is parents raising their kids with screens–if not, then why do SUVs have two screens mounted in the back seat? It's a very easy way to keep your kids quiet and not participate in raising them. This isn't the kids' fault. We're allowing it.

    Mark,
    Gloucester, VA

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  218. Dan

    I will retire from the military in a few months, after 24 years of service, and in my current job search, I have found that any IT-experienced person can pretty much write their own ticket in the current job pool. So if you are not educating your child on computer technologies and letting them learn the Internet, then you may hindering their future vice protecting it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  219. Jesus Palma, Nevada

    What's the risk of too much "screen time" for children? How about the risk of parents not spending enough time parenting their children in the first place. Kids are spending so much time online because of parents failing to be their for them in the first place. Parents must show their kids that there's a whole life outside the confines of a computer monitor.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  220. Glen Pepicelli

    If a kid is doing well in school why shouldn't she play video games in her free time? Are we assuming that the schools are completely broken and that it's possible to complete high school without reading or writing anything?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  221. SUNNY

    As a Mom with a 13 year old daughter that spends significant time on the internet, I can tell you that it can be easily as educational as any school room. She decided to become a vegetarian after seeing the treatment of chickens before slaughter. She learned a valuable lesson on the treatment of our farm animals.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  222. steve

    The only thing 6 hours on a computer screen takes away from in writing. In my opinion the keyboard is the new pen. And as far as reading? The entire web is nothing but words and stories.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  223. Lorrie Vassos

    I believe eventually they lose the ability to socialize effectively and within a variety of circumstances, as well as cripple their abilities to process real life situations. The more we allow them to shut themselves away from the real world the less they'll be able to manage....and this doesn't even begin to address the already acknowledged issues of obesity due to a sendentary lifestyle.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  224. BB

    If all kids are spending 6 hours staring at screens and reading online instead of reading books, that won't necessarily put them at a disadvantage or lacking the skills to compete in the future – what is more likely to happen is the kids who are NOT part of the digital revolution will find themselves the disadvantaged minority, and out of touch.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  225. Michael D

    Dear Mr Cafferty:
    I have always found time to pick up a real,hardcover or paperback book and actually read even though I have certain tv programs I watch(including CNN) as well high-speed internet via dsl.
    I have always been an avid reader since I was a child and I believe there is NO excuse for children not to find time to read an actual book.
    Better yet,if they like a particular movie,encourage them to read the book its based on..its usually much,much better.
    Thanks,Michael in Waco

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  226. Jorge Garrido

    As long as they spend the six hours leaving comments for the Cafferty File, I don't see any risk at all. Reading and writing are important academic and career skills, as the internet can develop these as well as anything. Just stay away from the blogs, and imageboards, for channels and commercials we get on TV are more than enough.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  227. Dave Kramer

    Kids spending too much time on the I-Net may be a concern if: 1) most of the time is spent on games, and/or 2) most of the time is spent on non-school related research. IF most of the time is spent on research for school or for learning. - No Problem. You may want to refine your research vis-a vi the above.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  228. George in NYC

    I am not concerned. It was said that George Bush read a book a week while in the White House. Perhaps we all would have been better off if he had watched six-hours of cartoons a day. I know I would have been.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  229. TB Pittaburgh Pa

    Hmmmmm they just might as well hook up an IV, cut off the legs and give them an expiration date like food or drugs. With no exercise no sunshine and the Joy both of those bring with daily use, Baby Boomer's might just out live our Grandbabies. What a shame.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  230. Grandmum

    My 7 year old (American) granddaughter lives in London. She has been reading the Little House on the Prairie series, and is enthralled with the idea of living in a log cabin. She recently spent an evening stirring a bucket of milk with a stick, trying to make butter. Going to bed exhausted, she was delighted to find a mound of butter in her bucket next morning. (Thanks, Dad.)

    P.S. They didn't even own a TV until time for the Olympics last year.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  231. Josh Nichols

    Jack,
    It's a Recipe for Global Disaster. A New Generation of Childeren, Soon to be adults, that can't even read or write at average levels? Can you say Doomsday?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  232. Meghan McCormick

    As a teenager in an evergrowing digital world even with the internet and TV not everyone my age has stopped reading because of the digital world. My brothers, sister and I still read on the weekend and during the school day- though sometimes its hard to read with the lack of time due to homework.
    – Meghan from CA NY

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  233. pamela from brooklyn

    I feel that children are spending to much time in front of screens. They could be getting into trouble. Parent need to supervisor the time child are in front of computors.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  234. Alex in Virginia

    Aren't the kids on the computer reading whats on web sites and writing in chat to their friends. I don't think the lack of reading and writing skills is caused by the T.V. and computers, its caused by bad schools and parents that can't say no.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  235. Abby

    As a high school teacher, I'll tell you the risk: It's making our smartest students dumb.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  236. Jean Wilson

    AS a teenager , I fear that a lot of the people in my adult generation will not be as smart as previous generations.Most teenagers believe that the future will be a very technologically advanced society where everything is done for you which is very wrong.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  237. B in Baltimore

    Well Jack, have you ever seen the movie "Lawnmower Man"?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  238. David

    We are creating of non-socialized young people. President Obama was involved with his peers in social/physical functions a a young man and he has a major advantage today being able to relate to many people of different cultural backgrounds and ages – from the 21-35 yr olds to senior citizens.

    After a number of years alone in front of computer you are being a loner, non-interactive and sedate humanoid! Get out and get involved in public service and volunteer like President Obama recommends.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  239. Rick S

    Jack,

    this is so strange we talk about kids being in front of a screen to much, and isn't it funny that we are going to comment on this in a blog. Are we really setting a divide with the children or are we as guilty

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  240. Berke (bur-KAY) , New York, NY

    We risk an influencable, moldable generation growing with the ability to interact socially–this includes friendship, love, humility, HUMANITY, etc. As psychologists know the internet gives people the ability to speak in chat rooms, write comments, and act like they otherwise may not. Recall the thousands egging a young man on to kill himself. When people grow up what they do and learn while they grow up impact their social skills greatly. This is why we worry about KIDS in front of the screens and not adults. And this is what we have to risk.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  241. Elizabeth

    As a high school guidance counselor, I fear that teenagers are spending too much time on social networking websites, talking to their "friends" and not enough time learning the social skills required to interact with real people. Students suffer from comments left on Facebook and Myspace and have not learned the skills to work out their problems face to face, and instead leave more comments on the internet in response. I worry that these teenagers will grow up to become isolated, friendless adults.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  242. Jason Hartung

    The primary risks are computer literacy, the knowledge of how to access the greatest resource the world has ever known, and minor eye strain. Thinking that recent generations of computer junkies are going to turn out worse than the television watching, couch potato generations, you are a fool.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  243. Anna Harrington

    The greatest danger is a lack of critical thinking skills. As a college professor, I see first-hand the trending away from active learning and thinking to passive absorption of information, nearly spoon-fed to them from whatever screen they're watching. We're turning out children who become adults who are technologically savvy but educationally stunted. This is not only bad for our education system, it's downright dangerous for our future.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  244. Rev. Canon Dr. W. Frank Hull IV

    Come on, Jack! How old are you? I'm 68, a US born citizen, and I work full time in a Mexican public university but I don't read hand held books anymore either. I read a lot. In fact, I read constantly, but I read on the Internet. Try it, old man, even you ought to be able to figure out how to do it!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  245. Ry

    ~the risk is a generation of imbeciles unable to access the thinking powers that bloom from reading. I teach 11th grade english in DE and can firmly state that these children, at 17, are unable to read the front page of the NYT with sufficient comprehension of the words. The risk, Jack and my fellow citizens, is a future that means certain decline from an inability to solve modern problems. We must have creativity to solve our create problems- Einstein said it best, you can look it up.

    Bring lawyers, guns, and money. keep 'em honest Jack.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  246. Mattie of West Palm Beach, FL

    The risks are ADD, obesity, reduced social, athletic, and academic skills, an inability to read for comprehension, eye strain, what therapists call impatience with life at a normal pace, computer addiction, exposure to inappropriate material, and more.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  247. John Thielbahr, Pullman, Washington

    The risk is not only lack of reading books, it is a disconnect from experiencing the natural world. When I was a kid, my mom told me to go outside and play and come home by dark. It was there that I learned about nature and all its wonder and mysteries. I also learned that I could survive nature's surprises which gave me confidence and made me want to learn more....and stay in school. Current research supports the need to get kids reconnected to nature. If the only world that kids know is virtual, who will be the stewards of our environment a generation from now?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  248. Roger Zoeller

    Jack , It's the same as having adults answer your silly questions all day and not reading anything worth while . Roger in Idaho

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  249. Ikhide

    I'm a 15 year boy who totally agrees with the amount of time children spend on tv and on the computer. During the last summer break i realized that i spent about 5 hours playing video games, and each i would do that everyday i would end up with a headache. Not only does too much recreation take up a lot of time, but it can also be damaging to your health and it would be wise too reduce the amount we spend each day.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  250. Sandra

    The risk of us or our children living life through screens is that we become a nation that doesn't know how to live real life. We fail to learn how to camp and appreciate nature, how to walk around the block, how to play a board game, or how to look words up in an actual dictionary. We become disabled in a real way by dwelling on the tool rather than how the tool can possibly enrich our lives. We can learn things on the internet or from TV and even from video games that help us but substituting those activities for real life is just plain short-sighted. The exception is where you make your living with the tool and can way away from it and live life.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  251. Vel

    While i can't speak for the younger crowd, I as someone in my early 30's see no difference between getting information from printed paper versus getting it from looking at a PC screen. The only real need I can see for myself at least to have use for printed material is for fiction books, and as I've grown older I really have no will to read fiction. Watching it on film is a different story, but I'd rather use my eyes to soak up real information, and I can do that just fine on the internet through a PC screen.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  252. Laura

    None! Except maybe to the eyes.....
    Good teachers and parents will welcome technology and use "screens" to teach reading and writing skills in new, innovative ways! Just because adolescents' reading isn't done on paper doesn't mean they're not reading, discussing (blogs, etc.), and negotiating a social world! As a teacher, I think it is vital that we mesh technology and traditional literacy skills in order to develop a technologically and textually skilled generation. Don't be afraid of technology!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  253. Deb I , Nauvoo, IL

    It's not quite like the library, but almost. The problem is the repetitiveness of video games–becoming very good at one extremely narrow useless thing. Otherwise, let them run wild on the Net just not for six hours a day without any outside time. Like the other writer, my idea of heaven has always been the library at Alexandria and this whole computer internet thing has got to be close.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  254. Samantha

    As a young graduate student planning to teach next year, I can already see the difference between students my age and this year's incoming college freshmen. Many tend to lack basic writing and verbal communication skills, and prefer texting and emailing over face-to-face and phone conversations. Last year, I was student teaching in an 8th grade social studies classroom and observed the internet lingo that carried over into students' formal writing. I am studying to be a reading specialist and can only hope that teachers can find a way to help students see the importance of these important reading and writing skills.
    -Samantha, Pittsburgh, PA

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  255. Tom

    Jack...
    Having worked in education for 20 plus years I can clearly see that it takes a large toll on a child's initiative It also takes a toll on their ability to reflect and to organize their thoughts. They are much more likely to find school "boring" because their teachers cannot compete with the constant stimulation they find in front of their digital screens all day. A responsible parent should limit their child's "screen" time to no more than 1 hour per day... but that would be too much like parenting.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  256. Alex

    The only risk there is, is a health risk. Is too much TV and computer having a health impact? Otherwise kids can read, write (well type) and learn online. There are even online classes offered by schools around the world. You don't need to have a physical book in order to read anymore...

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  257. bub jones

    what you get is Dumb down ie Jay walking

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  258. Myles Lowery - Rochester, Massachusetts

    I am a twenty-year-old that relies on the internet. I greatly feel that I really could not get by without it. I do use social networking sites like facebook on a daily basis to communicate with friends, but it is not on an outrageous level. The truth is that most people around my age, young adults, use the internet far more than anyone else. People who do not it as a tool will fall behind. That's the reality of it. Children need to know how to use it to their advantage at an early age. Of course, too much of a good thing isn't so good.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  259. Max Liebeskind

    Jack – I myself am only 13 years old, and I'll be the first to admit that I spend a whole lot of time on screens. All of the adults I know, however, spend just as much time on screens. Although this may be a health risk, I don't see much of a difference from the previous generations. Screens or no screens, some kids will get the best educations and have the best connections and they will be the ones who, for the most part, end up in power. Screens don't have much of an affect.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  260. Jason

    Jack- I am not trying to be smart, but last time I checked, anyone who needs to look at a computer or TV screen will need to be able to "READ" whats on it... I think people are more concerned about what they are reading vs. are they reading!!!! Last time I checked, someone with proper English didn't seem too cool and acted too snobbish for the rest of the world, whether they are right or wrong. .

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  261. Nic

    Who is going to play outside when it is freezing outside?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  262. David Brown

    Nothing, anyone writing on this blog probably spends more than 6 hours in front of a screen and you don't see anyone concerned about that.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  263. Will Richardson

    More like adults who refuse to understand the potentials of "screen time" won't be able to compete with the kids entering the work force. I'm not saying that there isn't a huge value in reading books; there is. But the ways that kids can connect and create via screens offer a huge potential for learning. What we need are adults who can help kids take advantage of that potential not squander it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  264. J Jennings

    The question should be, why do we have this need to deride every upcoming generation and talk about how they are all a bunch of dopes who don't get out enough and play. Miraculously, everyone grows up to be just as smart or stupid as the people in the generations that preceded it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  265. Jennifer - Raleigh, NC

    The greatest risk is the social divide and the inability to properly develop interpersonal relationships. Cell phones, video games, television, and computers used as replacements to in-person interactions can lead to an isolated sedentary lifestyle. How can a child develop their own sense of humanity when they live solely in the digital world? Technology serves a very important function, but without careful moderation it is a narrow window to the world.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  266. Katie

    I've noticed that public libraries place a tight time restriction on their internet access for patrons. Perhaps a tool could be added to home-based desktops and laptops to reinforce parents' efforts to limit their children's internet and computer game time.

    And, perhaps video game manufacturers and creators could encourage tie-in's to book series. After all, great book series such as Harry Potter made the jump to the computer screen with great financial results for those games' producers.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  267. matthew todd

    Jack,
    today is a different world, computer skills will be more and more important as our kids get older. I encourage my daughter to use my computer because in the future it will be more important for her to know how to use a computer. We still need to encourage the reading of books, but I believe that books will become more and more intergrated in computers. There are many studies that prove that the use of computers increase hand eye coordination, and problem solving in the games they play.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  268. Laura

    I don't know about risks, but I firmly believe that rarely reading books is nothing short of a tragedy. I suppose the risk would be that young people of today would be cut off from a massive trove of information only available in the written word since not EVERYTHING is available online. And I still trust the information I pull from books and magazines more than what I pull up on Google. If you can touch it, smell it and see it in your own hands, it must be more real. I love books and I am immensely grateful to my parents for always having the time to read with me while I was growing up and for supporting my ever-growing library today.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  269. Rj

    I don't see a problem . I let my 12 year old boy play all the games he could get his hands on. 6 hours a day in front of a screen is a short day in front of the screen for him. All that time though and now he getting straight a's, is on the honor role, is programming in C++ and is already considering MIT for collage. All this talk that video games and to much technology are bad is rubbish. Give the kids something real to challenge their minds with this technology and you also secure your future retirement.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  270. Jonathan

    As an educator, i definitely see the "screen time" generation failing miserably at a few things. First, they write papers using text "words". Second, they do not know how to communicate with each other. They are often getting into relationship problems with peers because of misunderstood myspace "talk" where you can not sense tone or look at one's expression when they are typing it. It's also much easier to hide behind a computer when expressing yourself. Third, the attention span of my high school students is barely there. If they can not find the answer quick enough they give up very easily.

    Also,we'll all probably be blind, have hearing issues and chronic arthritis and carpal tunnel.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  271. Renee

    Well Jack....I dont think there is a major problem with sitting in front of computer screens for 6 hours a day, because I do it everyday. The only lil problem there is that you might start to get blind. But other than that there aint no big deal wit sittin in front of the tv/computer screen for 6 hours. YAAA DiGGG

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  272. Bryan

    Kids spending more time in front of screens instead of books is a sign of the times. Its just another tool being used to deliberately "dumb down" our children so they will be ignorant when it comes to history, math, english, and science in order to make them subserviant to the coming new world order government system.
    The sick part about this is that you know it and are part of the problem

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  273. Cory

    As a teacher, you want kids to read and write well, especially on their own time and it's amazing how much reading you actually do while on the internet!

    The downside is the internet and social networking lacks serious grammatical content and can't stop kids from finding inappropriate material....and that's what PARENTS are for!

    Too bad a lot of parents can't adequately use a computer themselves!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  274. Mike

    I'm a "normal" 17 year old in terms of this article. I have a Facebook account and often find myself wasting hours upon hours on the site. Although I can't deny that I could use my time in much more productive ways, I would argue that the technology of the day has made my generation more connected to the world, but as always, careful parental control is definitely a must.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  275. Jill

    Yes my daughter spends 6 hours a day on the computer,
    she goes to a Cyber school in virtual classrooms. We do school this way to have more control of her education.
    My husband & I have stict rules on how much time that all 3 of our daughters can spend on the computer although some people use not only the computer but tv has a babysitter.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  276. Kyle, North Carolina

    I think this is absolutely ignorant for another generation to claim that a younger more technologically-savvy generation will not be able to compete in the adult world. While studies show that the kids in the UK don't read as many books, they read on-line and blogs just like yours, and besides the adult world now is much more based on technology.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  277. Phil Cicero

    Why are kids at the screen? They are seeking activities that engage them and that they enjoy. School is boring for many of them. Teachers are forced to teach to tests that are mandated by No Child Left Behind. Give kids a meaningful curriculum which is relevant and interesting. Once that is done, they will seek more information by selecting and reading books which will supplement their school learning.
    Phil Cicero
    Bellmore, NY

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  278. James

    I'm from 10-19 years old with my family always watching me, they say I look at screens alot but I dont seem to like books. So I just wanted to know how can I get into reading again?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  279. toni myers

    Jack- I have a friend who is a teacher and she said children in her class are turning in papers using grammer like r instead of are and u instead of you. With texting and email and all the other electronic gadgets of this age it is destroying the desire for young people to want to read and right proper grammer I am afraid for the future!
    I am from California

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  280. Beth Chamberlin

    I am already see the results of this in my 8th grade classroom. The learning gap is widening. In the past we had the wealthy, literate class and the poor, illiterate class. We are headed there again! The upside – it will probably be easier for my son to get into Harvard in six years. :-)

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  281. Bob

    I teach college level writing to students who could not pass the written part of the college entrance exam and only get three semesters to pass my course or they cannot go beyond an Associates degree. I am in New Jersey, but think my experience is typical. My young students have limited knowledge of literature and extremely poor writing skills.

    It now takes five to six years for students to get a bachelors degree and that is in part to our poor schools and the fact that as parents and a society we don't demand enough of our children. The first two years for most college students is spent in remedial classes.

    I also am the director of the computer department at a business school and know what kids and young adults do on line, and it is not preparing for school. We are heading towards an abyss that will put this country at a terrible disadvantage to countries that demand and prepare their children be literate, competent adults.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  282. Ade Bakare

    Jack, we all know what the risks are but the question is what is being done to avoid the threat it poses to the future.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  283. Matt

    I am a college student, and I can tell you with confidence that my generation lacks efficient reading and writing skills. My generation's infatuation with "screens" (Ipods, computers, phones, television) has undoubtedly changed how we operate; person-to-person communication is losing its value and is being replaced by technological communication. I am very worried that my generation's love for technology - although it's production may produce short-term capital - will lead to larger individual and societal psychological and basic communication problems in the future.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  284. Kelly - Brooklyn, NY

    Obesity – and I'm not sure there's a greater risk for kids out there.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  285. Patrick of Ohio

    Does anyone see the hypocrisy in a talking head on a screen asking others to go to another screen to answer a question regarding the effects of people looking at screens for a prolonged amount of time?

    So to answer your question Jack, the risk of allowing children to be exposed to screens for six or more hours is that they might happen to watch some liberal nutjob on CNN and feel compelled to answer his questions in a never-ending cycle of screen-viewing.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  286. Suzanne Shermer

    Jack, The question-askers have already succumbed to the numbing effects of this disease.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  287. Bill G.

    Jack,

    It's mind-boggling to believe these numbers are real. The worst thing about this is that children are watching non- educational shows for three hours a day, and believe me Jack I'm sure they are tuned into Spongebob Squarepant's and not The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  288. Kevin

    In today's ever changing world I don't see it as a shocking or even necessarily bad thing at all. It is nothing more than the leisure equivalent of the abandonment of old media that we see putting many newspapers out of business.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  289. Erin

    The answer is children who can't comprehend text and cannot think critically! I am a reading specialist in a middle class community. All my students are in my class because they have spent more hours in front of the t.v. or computer, and not enough time reading good literature. When are parents going to realize that their children are not going to survive in the "real world"?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  290. over9000

    It's simply a change in medium. The older generation keep trying to ruin our buzz.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  291. Julie - Elizabethtown, Kentucky

    As once spoken, " fat and stupid is no way to get ahead" get off your ass and exercise, read and get ahead

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  292. Sarina Ussach

    I am absolutely horrified by the statistics you are providing. I think reading is the ultimate "comfort food" and is such a nice way to relax and get away from the complexities and the grind of daily life. Using the computer or "screen time" is actually very stimulating versus calming. Also, how can you snuggle into bed, and hold a nice intriguing computer? How about snuggling in and holding a nice intriguing novel. TRAGIC! What happens to those who have not learned to "read a book" when there is no technology available?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  293. Lain

    There is absolutely no risk, as long as the parent actually pays attention to what the child is doing during the time. Games, music, TV, they all have ratings systems that go widely ignored by parents until something goes wrong with their children. It's not that our media needs to be controlled, it's that parents need to get some personal responsibility. Likewise, if parents take an interest in getting their kids to read, it might actually have an effect on the child. Finding their interests and recommending books on the subject can go a long way. Simply forcing a child to read something they could care less about will only make them hate reading.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  294. Barbara Laing

    No brainer! We will have spawned a generation of obese, diabetic, carpal tunnel suffering, deaf, adults who will probably never see the day when they can collect Social Security. Parents need to get their acts together and learn to switch off the T.V., video games, ipods, and cell phones, and chase their kids outside to play. What ever happened to all the street games we played as kids? Our parents couldn't ever get us to come inside. Now, you can't get the kids to go outside! What a waste.

    Bobbi

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  295. E.M., Virginia

    You're asking a 20th-century question about 21st-century learners. What if the "adult world" we're so worried about preparing kids for has fundamentally changed?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  296. Kevin St.Denis

    As a middle school reading teacher, I see the risk everyday–kids end up not knowing how to read. Consequently, they have a difficult time writing well since they seldom see it in a book. Using audio books and other methods can get them interested in reading again, but parents need to cut down screen time down and increase book time.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  297. Suzanne Ruggles

    Kids who spend time in nature have better test scores across the board, behave better in class, have more respect for themselves and their peers, are more creative, and suffer less from the symptoms of obesity and ADD than kids who are plugged in. That's why they shouldn't be in front of screens. How can we expect our children to know how to keep the planet hospitable – both to humans and to all of the other fascinating creatures on earth – if they have don't interact with the elements that our unique and bountiful earth delights us with? Nature is good for them. Nature is good for everyone. And it is in everyone's best interest.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  298. Harvey

    As a teacher and a father of an eleven year old the key is both the amount and quality of reading time. If my daughter is reading two hours a day, using her dictionary, and writing her stories on her PC
    then the rest of time is less relevant. The problem may be that parents are not guaranteeing a certain minimum foundation time
    and quality of reading books. Beyond that the newer generations may
    simply have a predisposition to a multimedia environment.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  299. Matt Fulmer

    Kids do spend a lot of time in front of screens but I am a 3rd grade teacher and I will guarantee you that my students spend at least 5 hours a day at school doing some form of reading. We do leveled reading groups in which they all read a book on "their level", we have 15 minutes of silent reading time and they complete a reading log, we do math word problems and they must write how they solved their problem. I do at least 2 word fluency reading passages a week with each of my students and just tonight, they are assigned a reading/comprehension passage in which they must answer essay type questions. I think (honestly) that kids today spend so much time in school reading and writing that when they get home, they just want to do games. I do agree that there is too much "gaming" but that is just the way of this generation. Actually, we probably (at least in my school district of Auburn, AL) have better writers and readers than ever before. I have third graders that can write 4-5 paragraph stories with very few errors. I had a child last year that could read and quote Chaucer. Yes, her parents were English professors but kids LOVE reading. Mine cannot wait for Library Day every Monday. I think it's just another bad knock on Technology that kids use it more but I think they actually read more than most think.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  300. Barry Bengtsen

    That's what "parental controls" are for, right? Now tell me, how many hours a day are their parents viewing THEIR computer screens-for work or play? If children can't read or write, let's blame it on the schools--right?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  301. J Redhair

    There are serious impacts of the digital age with the cultural explosion of texting, internet usage, and HD televisions. I am a proud member of the Navajo Nation and face similar social and cultural problems with the introduction of cable/satellite television on our traditional homeland. There is an increasing "distance" between the elderly and youth as a result of our recent dependence of technology. Many Americans forget our ancestors survived and flourished without the influence of technology.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  302. Art in Williamsburg

    Jack,
    This is one of your better revelations. Not all kids are giving up reading, only those that want the easy way out. The result will be a greater separation of the classes. Those that read will be able to write and speak and earn a better income, those that don't will be playiing games for a long time. Whatever makes you happy. Where do you want your childto end up?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  303. Kevin

    (New Mexico) In today's ever changing world I don't see it as a shocking or even necessarily bad thing at all. It is nothing more than the leisure equivalent of the abandonment of old media that we see putting many newspapers out of business.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  304. Artigrius

    Wow, really? This question screams "excitable older generation unnecessarily worried".

    Relax.

    I don't see any problem with that much screen time, and in fact am surprised it's not more. I personally spend most waking moments in front of the computer :/

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  305. Dianne Morrison, Ohio

    Jack,
    The risk is creating a generation that can not read, and a generation that can not think for themselves. Social skills will also be a big problem. Moderation, limits and knowing what your children are watching is important. 6 hours of television is neglectful. Almost as bad as naming your son Adolph HItler.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  306. James Mulrooney

    The greatest risk of children spending six hours a day in front of a computer or tv screen is that they will end up as clueless as Bush. That Hellicopter leaving Washington with Bush yesterday was the highlight of the inauguration!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  307. Harry

    As a retired elementary schoolteacher, I made Reading a priority in my classroom. Reading is the key to all understanding. Sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end puts an end to socialization with others and turns kids into zombies. Turn the damn computers off, quit watching mindless reality television–open a book, read to your kids, have them read to you. Set an example by having your children see you read. You will have more educated, more interesting, more interest-ed kids.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  308. Jan from Schaumburg, Illinois

    Jack,
    I have been teaching for 30 years. I am a third grade teacher and we spend at least four hours out of our six hour day in class reading and developing reading skills. The increase in the watching of TV and the use of video games have created children who settle their differences with hitting, punching and arguing, have no social skills or problem solving skills and absolutely no creativity. There are very few educational games out there that teach those skills necessary to become successful adults. Shut off the television, limit computer use and save your child' eye sight while you're at it!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  309. Russ Firestone

    As a university media instructor, I would offer that the time spent in front of a computer screen - like the time spent watching TV - isn't nearly as important as WHAT

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  310. Renee

    Well Jack….I dont think there is a major problem with sitting in front of computer screens for 6 hours a day, because I do it everyday. The only lil problem there is that you might start to get blind. But other than that there aint no big deal wit sittin in front of the tv/computer screen for 6 hours. YAAA DiGGG

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  311. Kevin-London, Ontario

    There is no threat, the age of computers is now and most if not all jobs in the future will require skills with computers such as typing. Literacy skills are still taught in schools and many programs allow spell and grammar checks, making grammar skills near to redundant at this time of day.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  312. Nikki- Va.

    Jack I say ignorance on the part of the parents/parent! It seems TV has become the new babysitter as well. Lets start by understanding some parents are kids themselves so they think as such. Then society wonders why we are the most heaviest people on the planet well the solution is simple....GeT OFF YOUR A** and take part in CHANGE. These parents don't realize they are responsible for the future through how they raise their children. Jack that subject is so annoying because talking to the parents that don't care is like "beating a dead horse".

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  313. Phil V.

    I'll tell you from a 20-year-olds first-hand experience, Jack. I'm afraid to leave the house and afraid of society and people.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  314. Regina Gordon

    There's no risk in allowing kids to spend 6 hrs in front of a screen as long as they can read and compose a sentence. Not only are we losing the book culture, we will at some time in the future probably lose the text culture, too. Our medium of communication will ultimately be visual, if not totally mental, due to computer advance and implantation.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  315. Chris

    next to nothing, i'm a 19 year old college student who essentially learned to read because of the time i spent playing videogames. It became a necessity for me to learn how to understand the text displayed in order to progress further, i always was a child with a vocabulary that was far more diverse and complex than those of my classmates who did not share similar expiriences. Children today still enjoy interesting and complex stories, just on LCD screens instead of paper pages.

    Chris
    PA

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  316. Mary McDonald

    The problem with any screens, TV, Videos, games, and, Computers, is that children get all their "visualizing" done for them. The story/activity comes in the format provided to them and there is much less THINKING. They don't have to use words to get the pictures and the thought processes for problem solving are clearly hampered. Another very valid point is the lack of extended "thinking" attention, when there is no or little reading. Games can involve the mind, but it's not a creative act.

    As an elementary teacher, parent and grandparent, I can clearly see a difference between children who read/are read to and those who mainly have a screen in their lives. Ask an elementary teacher.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  317. Michael Mayrath

    Jack,

    How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen? How about the millions of Americans who sit in front a screen hour after hour after hour 5 days a week, including the ones reading this message.... We need to utilize these social technologies to enhance learning. Let pen-pals be replaced with collaborations between kids in the US and Africa. Screens and cell phones are here to stay. It is our job to use them as an effective educational tool.

    Sincerely,

    Michael Mayrath, Austin TX

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  318. Alice Ann Arrowood, Ph.D.

    The impact of spending 6 hours per day in front of screens social networking, playing games, etc. is primarily measured in the loss of what they otherwise might be doing with some of that time: 1. playing and socializing with others, building social skills and relationships 2 .reading and studying for their school courses, learning more, building frustration tolerance and study skills, learning to deal with complex ideas, vocabulary, relationships and computations, thus becoming able to do higher education and higher level careers and professions 3. exercising, playing sports and games, thus becoming more fit, strong, and healthy; forming habits that will protect them from cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Need I go on?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  319. Lisa

    Jack,
    I make over $50K working part-time and I've been staring at a screen since I can remember. First it was the television, then the overhead projector screen in college. I got an internship programming computers and have been staring for 20 years on the job. As a mother, I find myself nagging my kids for staring at the computer, but if I think about it ... they just might be doing some early on the job training!

    Lisa
    Milwaukee

    January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  320. Linda M.

    Jack, they could become young George W. Bushes.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  321. Olaoluwa Afolayan

    Unfortunately, with so much of what we do nowadays being increasingly more dependent on computer technology, cutting children off completely from computers is a tall order. However, six hours a day is entirely too much even for adults I'd argue. I know from personal experience that you run the risk of wasting time that could be spent on something useful the longer you spend in front of a screen - any screen be it television or computer. I can't tell you how many hours I spent in front of a screen doing some of those very things you mentioned in the report - visiting social networks and YouTube, playing games and in my case, perusing movie and music websites. I'm completely hooked!!!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  322. Susan Dadres

    I'm sure you noticed the irony of asking us to sit in front of a computer screen in order to express an opinion about kids spending so much time in front of a computer screen. I spend a lot of time online because I teach Economics online, so I think it is helpful for kids to be online some so they will be able to function in the classroom of the future. My 14-year son likes to be on myspace, but I notice he mostly works on his layout, trying to make it attractive, and this is a useful skill. Overall, as long as parents stay involved with their kids, computer time is beneficial.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  323. Eamon Almiladi

    These kids are our future, if we continue to allow them to look at screens for long hours then we have failed as parents and as guides. We need doctors, lawyers, and scientists. If these kids continue to spend half an hour of reading a day, then I'm not so optimistic about the future.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  324. Dale Smith

    Mr. Cafferty,

    The statistics you reported do not surprise me in the least. I fullheartedly believe that our youth spend far too much time engrosed in 'entertainment' on their computers and consoles, thereby losing valuable time which could be spent expanding their education of all genres. Personally I believe the internet itself is an essential source of information, far larger than any encyclopedia could contain. Perhaps we the parents could aspire to encourage our children to discover the endless possibilities that our World Wide Web provides. I've seen first hand the excitement of an elderly relative gripping the notion that we have a library of ages at our fingertips. If only our youth didn't take such a thing for granted...

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  325. Camden Mullis

    Yes, children DO spend more time on the internet and computers! However, there is something that adults fail to realize–the adult world is changing as well! Some folks think that children will not be able to function in an adult world, however, when our children are adults, the adult world will have changed completely!

    By educating themselves in technology, our children are THE ONLY ONES preparing themselves for the future that will one day exist!

    Schools, and our idea of education, need to change dramatically! We live in an interactive age. Textbooks are not interactive (unless you're writing in them, ripping out pages, or throwing them across the room). The internet (2.0) allows our children to interact with, manipulate, and operate on their environment. We should encourage them through structured technological studies that pull together core curricula.

    The world is changing. How can we fault our children for preparing themselves to live in this world?

    Here's a thought: Apply the rate of technological advancement for the past 60 years to the next 15. That's the world that children today live in. I like this popular statement: "We're all on a careening bus–and the children are driving!"

    Camden Mullis
    cmullis@zcs.k12.in.us

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  326. Renee

    Well Jack….I dont think there is a major problem with sitting in front of computer screens for 6 hours a day, because I do it everyday. The only lil problem there is that you might start to get blind. But other than that there aint no big deal wit sittin in front of the tv/computer screen for 6 hours.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  327. Patrick Fenelon

    None, Computers have become the new medium for information; the culture is changing and what our children do is the first preview of what this new culture will be, for better or worse.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  328. Devon pierre

    I believe that if children continue to depend on video games and television the future could be tragic

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  329. Femi Olukoya

    It is important to set time for how long our children should be affixed to electronics. It is also imperative to watch and supervise who they talk to and what they do. but they should be allowed to have their own time to melt away the troubles of the day.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  330. Zack

    Hi jack, this is my first time having input in one of your questions, tho I often watch your show on CNN. Im 16 years old, I live in Clinton Maine. I, like many of my peers spend a great deal of time on the computer, i estimate about 1, to two hours a day. About 60 % of the time Im using the social networking site know as Myspace. Another Web site used by many of my friends is Youtube, a sort of video sharing network. I use it occasionally but not quite as much as your average teen. As for your question, I believe that in most cases excessive computer use is not in the favor of most junior Americans. While it is amazing that the young people in this country are such advanced users of technology, I fear that if the kids don't go and pick up a book every once in a while it could have detrimental affects on the ability of young Americans to compete in this fast advancing world.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  331. Partha Dutta

    Jack,

    lighten-up – I think this is called generation gap. Maybe these kids are doing the right things their generation needs to make it happen in the future world. I am sure you and I did not have video games, text messaging, youtube and so many other things when we were kids. Besides see where all that reading and writing got me – no job, no home, no savings, no retirement! Come on, let the kids be kids.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  332. Justin

    Its the new age of technology. I am 17 years of age, I spend a majority of my time looking up information for school on the computer. When I'm not on the computer I'm looking at people like Jack Cafferty, because I know the next day I will be asked about it at school. When I'm not at school, researching on the internet, or watching CNN, I run a few miles. It's just a new age of how things are done.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  333. Makedah (Jackson,MS)

    One risk alone is allowing children to learn from the internet which is not always reliable information, not too mention it is bad for their eyes. Children are also able to access websites where they could become victims of cyber predators, even with the parental controls on; it's just not safe!!! I think parents need to require their children to read more, for reading is fundamental.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  334. pamela from brooklyn

    I feel that children are spending to much time in front of screens. They could be getting into trouble. Parents need to supervisor the time children are in front of computors.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  335. Matt

    A larger question needs to be addressed:

    Has the internet been deceptive in presenting itself as a "social" tool?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  336. Modupe Falana-Azeez

    Allowing our children to spend majority of their time on the computer or watching TV is taking away from quality parenting time. It doesn't take a genius to know that if this continues we will have generations of adults who will lack efficient communication skills needed to succeed in a global world. As our new president stated "it is time to turn off the TV's" and also the computers and spend some time reading to our children. Our children's mind needs to be enlightened and it should be done by parents not youtube and MTV.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  337. Mathew

    I'm only a senior in h.s. and I even believe john the entertainment world is getting out of hand. Most kids now n days are not so enthusiastic about opening up a book. Kids are lacking imaginition and leaving it all to the video games. Studies show more younger adults are joining the armed forces because they are not sure how to handle our economic crises. I believe it goes to show how good they did in school. Im sure many young people today as well as myself are easily forgetting or ignoring whats more important than videos.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  338. Dr. Walt Goodpastor

    It's too much time spent before computer screens and such abominations as text messaging as well! Spoken language is dying. Literature is dying. We will soon have a society capable of communicating only through emanation of a series of hoots and grunts. They would soon be swinging through the trees, but they barely possess the physical skills to move from one chair to another.
    Dr. Walt Goodpastor
    The Woodlands, Texas

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  339. Linda

    Jack

    Thats why our kids are failing in most of the schools here in California. Parents need to take control and put a stop to all that time spent on the computer. There was no way I let my daughter stay on the computer hrs at a time, I would think that someone weird to just leave your kid left in front of a computer and in reality its showing the parent isn't taking enough time with the interests of their kids. Put a book in front of them and demand them to read, once kids start to read( of course try something you think that will interest them), they will start reaching for books much more.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  340. Chris Palmer

    Jack –
    What do expect our young people to do when they view parents and guardian's monopolizing their time with email and replying to blogs like this one. Children are effected by their surroundings. If you want your kid to read, pick up a book and lead by example.

    ~Chris
    Sanford, North Carolina

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  341. Robert H, Wilmignton DE

    Jack:

    Somewhat hypocritical for you to be expressing outrage about time in front of computer and television screens, coming from a subsidiary of entertainment giant Time Warner don't you think? My stock in your company might actually recover if everyone watched CNN for six hours a day and kids ate the pablum of your computer games and movies.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  342. Tommy

    Its unhealthy.I t will have such negative affects because the younger generation will lack leadership skills.They will also lack communication skills and cant socialize with peers.It would have a negative affect on the next generation.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  343. Alizeh

    From an eleven-year-old's perspective (mine) I prefer books over TV
    and see some of my classmates failing classes because they were too busy watching television or playing video games. I believe too much T.V. spoils a child's ability to prioritize and does not excercise the brain. Children lose their sense of responsibility and tend to procrastinate much more. Our generation needs to understand the meaning of GOOD HARD WORK!!
    -Alizeh, age 11
    Beaumont, Tx

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  344. kevin

    is that what our world is leading to, if there was a study that our kids were spending 6 hours in front of a screen at school or at church then that would be good. because in our mind it would be viewed to be constructive. a child is supposed to mess off that what kids do that's why when an adult joshes off we tell them to grow up. let a child be a child because when they become an adult you will miss them sittin in front of a screen for six hours

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  345. Russ Martin

    I retired from teaching this past year. I taught high school fine arts for 24 years and college level fine arts for 7 years. As part of my classes, students were required to write reports on various topics.
    Most of what I received showed little ability to write, and almost no awareness of proper form. Additionally, the majority of material handed in for a grade, was a straight download. This, they believed, was OK. I attribute the lack of literary and research skills to permissive parents who allow their children to do what they want, as long as they don't annoy them. At some point, parents must take responsibility for what their children do and require that they do their work instead of play video games and text their friends.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  346. Frank

    What's the risk of allowing children six hours of screen time? By 2020 the only requirement to apply for college will be to have over 1,000 myspace friends, post over 500 comments and know more website links than authors and/or scientists that changed human intellect.

    Frank Smith,
    Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  347. Donald Butler

    Too much of anything can be unhealthy, which applies to children and adults. The risks of "too much screen time": children will learn behavioral traits, morals and values from the information seen. You learn not only from what you hear. Children are very influential and may practice things they find interesting on the screen.

    Balance is important...Children need more face time with their parents, and this includes sharing dinner conversations no matter how busy we parents are.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  348. over9000

    L@WL @ J@cK. LeYv Da K1Dz @ LaWn. R0FL

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  349. support bobby brown jacksonville arkansas

    kids need to get home work done frist before use the computer or watching

    January 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  350. pa

    Kids spending time on the internet don't necessarily do it for education, it ismore of a distraction.
    Watching videos on youtube or spending time on livelish.com chatting with friends don't allow them to write good english. I find myself sending emails without reviewing them sometimes which is not good and since kids need to learn how to write effectively and communicate., it can cause a threat to the nation in the future !

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  351. Brandy

    Jack,
    My 10 year old daughter and I are watching and she is very mad. She reads everyday at school and at least a hour at home if not more. She watches TV, plays games and goes on the internet. You just have to time everything. She loves reading, her school has a program just for reading and every child in the school reads and takes quiz's on the books.
    Brandy
    IN

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  352. Gwyneth

    Seriously, Mr. Cafferty! You just asked us ON TV to respond ONLINE to a question about whether children watch too much tv and spend too much time online? None of us can even pretend to have the moral high ground on this one.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  353. Jim

    As a high school and college media teacher I can confirm that internet and cell phone-based games, music videos, trashy internet sites, and
    I-pods are distracting our students. And teachers are increasingly powerless to curb it. Too often parents and even legislators have caved into students' demands for these toys. Our students will soon have the most well developed oversized thumbs on the planet as they go deaf.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  354. Anjali

    Not enough exercise- terrible effect on their eyes- loss of imagination- inability to reason....
    This is a generation that prefers to watch Harry Potter films in 2 and odd hours than read the 600 odd pages...
    Adults are doing it too- maybe that is why they are unable to lead by example... But childhood is when reading habits are formed.....

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  355. Steve of Hohenwald TN.

    Jack i bet your parents were worried when you quit reading stone tablets. Maybe its not as bad as you think? My kids spend a lot of time on the computer and playing video games and they can read better than me. Perhaps they are picking up on more usefull things than we think.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  356. Sarah Berardi

    The bottomless pool of information on the internet is enough to drown anyone and hypnotize them on their way down. When surfing the waves of knowledge and entertainment on the net becomes an addiction, it can pose a serious threat to the way one structures their experience of the off-screen outside world. One can become ill equipped to deal with their environment and people on a regular basis because it is too easy to seek digital stimulation on the world wide web.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  357. John Fekner

    Although we may be the end of reading in a straight line, the next generation is keen on learning through new interactions and personal interpretations via global and community interplay.

    John Fekner
    Long Island City , NY

    January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  358. Chris

    Considering most of these kids don't do things that wouid be considered constructive, I think we'll see a greater increase of antisocial behaivor. I wouldn't be suprised if in 50 years people will stop hosting parties and just start watching "one-person" parties on internet all the time.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  359. kelly Huff

    I have a 17 year old male that lives on this computer. I got the chance to type this because he is taking a bath. I love the internet because of my work as a photojournalist, but I wish you had to logg in with a birth certificate to allow the net to police the time kids spend on the computer. I have ttried everything including taking the power cord to the computer away for days.

    John Connor- Please save us in the future. Where is the Terminator now????

    KJH

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  360. Jodi MN

    My 10 year old thankfully does not have much interest in the internet. She also is supposed to read 30 mins a night for school and usually reads about an hour instead. She LOVES to read! But so do I so she see's that and sometimes we will read together in bed.
    I think that it comes down to the parents. Most parents don't spend enough time with there kids, let alone keeping track of what they watch or do on the internet. They are creating a new breed of kids that have less respect for others and for their own future's. The stuff you can find on the internet is scary and easily accessible.
    As a single mom that works and goes to school I still find plenty of time to spend with my daughter, and it's not spent watching TV!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  361. Bill Csapo

    6 hrs/ day. that's not 2 much. U R 2 10-s. I C no E-fex @ all.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  362. David Workman

    More books should be made available on line to be downloaded, so "that screen" could be used to reduce cost and waste. The establishment of library's for those who are not computer literate, or do not have access will always be necessary, but it's time to set up a central library, statewide, federally wide to give those with computer access a better chance to learn, and increase ability.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  363. David J. Dennehy, Venice FL.

    Well read individuals have a much better command of the language, not only in construction and syntax, but also of vocabulary, simile and style. This will give them a leg up in life in so many situations from issuing a concise, clear, life-saving command in the military, to being a big winner on a game show. Young people should read more than IMs and text mesages.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  364. Judith Nicholson

    My daughter and her husband(both physicians) allow their three children only two hours of technology each day, and that includes television. Their children are ALL musicians and are ALL in accelerated classes in school. I know good genes are involved here too, but these kids are living up to their potential.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  365. Kevin

    It is obviously a bad thing that kids are looking at a screen for six hours a day but it's not as bad as it sounds. At work each of us "adults" look at a screen at least six hours if not more. I agree that children should be doing other activites for part of those six hours, but reading a book isn't the best alternative. Activities that stimulate the mind are the best use of a childs time. It is inevitable that the book industry will be taking large hit due to the internet age, just as every other print company will be. To ask our children to not use the internet as a first source of information will be doing them an injustice. This is the band wagon of the future. I hope you are along for the ride.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  366. Knowclue

    One might ask, what are the risks of kids spending 6 hours a day in school only learning to pass a test? Six hours in front of a screen may actually be better preparation for the world in which they will be asked to work.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  367. Coach Evan

    I think the problem is that there are not enough RELEVANT books for kids ages 9 to 18. As a young teenager I would read every edition of Slam Magazine because like most teenage boys I loved sports. The other day I purchased a book at http://www.JumpStartHoops.com titled "Everyone Hates a Ball Hog but They All Love a Scorer." This was a great read and my kids couldn't put it down. I wish there were more books like this to stimulate young teenage interest.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  368. Kate McCormick

    Sure Kids are watching more TV and are on their computers more but in this age adults are too. This is how we get our information in this modern age. Not only is this survey incomplete it is incorrect. In my family of 5 teenagers we all are avid readers. While we enjoy our computer we only have enough time to go on it sparingly.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  369. Stephanie

    The risk is enormous and I refuse to take it. My son and daughter are 12 and 16. Neither of them have a TV or computer in their rooms, nor do they have cell phones. They are children. When they are out on their own they can have as many digital devices as they can afford. AFTER rent and utilities. My guess is... that won't be many.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  370. Neil C

    Parental involvement or lack of -- Too many Parents park their kids in front of the Tube as a sitter. Involvement with your kids is what makes a reader. I'm married to a computer scientist and my kids are all readers -why - We read to them and keyed their interest out side of the tube -- If you want your kids to read –TEACH THEM - I've had to tell the kids to put the books down –and look out the window and take in the sights.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  371. Ken

    Believe it or not, the education system encourages students to spend more time looking at screens and less at books. The rationale is that the students will become more technologically literate, but the risk of making kids more tech savvy is that young people are becoming ever more myopic. They can be assigned to read, but won't read a book, but put that book on a screen and they may read it... if it's animated. It's a brave new world... or at least it better be. I worry.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  372. Javier Morales

    I cannot imagine my kids spending that much time on the computer, IPod’s, T.V. etc. (six hours?). I have a hard time with working eight hours a day, coming home at 6 p.m., and only spending about four hours with my family; per day. I spend more time at work than with my family. My time with my family is too precious to let my kids detach so far.

    Florida.jm

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  373. Jan Deeter

    Back in the '80s my late sister sold textbooks to colleges and universities for a major publishing house. The first question a professor asked her about a new text was, "Is it written on a fourth grade reading level?" If her answers was a fifth grade reading level or higher, the text was NOT considered. If a fourth grade reading level was the best high school graduates could do in the 80s, wonder where they are today. Would a 2nd grade reading level be too advanced? And we wonder why the rest of the world is ahead of us in education. Jack, maybe it's simply time to get back to basics and start reading again.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  374. Rody

    Jack, in case you have not noticed, the world has turned digital a long time ago. Next month, analog TV transmission will cease – a clear indication of how digitalization has crept into our everyday existence. The sooner our children learn to master computer reality, the sooner they become master of it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  375. Karol

    The risk is major. The love of reading is intrinsic to vocabulary, to thinking and the love of words put together in a meaningful, creative manner. The computer is a valuable tool for looking up something quickly. The encyclopedia adds depth.

    Like anything else, parents need to set the rules as to time spent on the computer – just as of those of us in the stone age limited our children's TV time. I have three successful adult daughters – all readers. I have three grandsons, all readers, two in college, one in medical school. Of course they use the computer for homework and they STILL read for pleasure.

    Scottsdale, AZ

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  376. Elaine

    Whatever our kids learn from the internet or the TV, it will do them no good if they aren't able to effectively express themselves in writing. No exposure to the breadth of written expression, no chance to use their imagination, means they won't develop either of their own. What a waste.

    Madion, NJ

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  377. Deanna

    Adults are supposed to lead by example. If you want us to give up the technology i expect you to do the same.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  378. Fred Golladay

    Jack,

    The "risks" are already minifesting themselves. Take a look at modern-day newscasters. Most are unable to use the words, "fewer" and "less" in the proper gramatical context. Imagine what the future holds for our national language; or our future leadeship. A generation of illeterates is already here.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  379. Michael Wayne, Westminster, California

    Youth may not be reading traditional books but the time spent online can be spent reading and learning using resources such as Google or Wikipedia. Parents should encourage the children to use the internet constructively. There is a generational gap on technology. I am a self-proclaimed nerd of Generation Y and never pick up a traditional book but all of my spare time I spend researching and learning online. Reading has just changed mediums. It used to be through a paper book now it is through a laptop/computer.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  380. Mike, Philly

    I see it as almost completly benificial, i often hear the elderly and technologically incompetent living in this age of global communication complaining that kids do not have "real" childhoods because they were not THEIR childhoods. playing outside doesn't really offer any tangible benefits than doing so indoors it is just different from what they expierienced and theirfore they fear it

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  381. John Nelson

    How about parents shut off the TV and make an attempt to be adults. Take children outside for a little B-Ball, place catch with a baseball, kick a soccer ball or toss a football or take a walk for 1 of the 6 hours. Next, sit down and study with your kids. Or you can all sit on your "double wides" and wait until everyone is too fat to do anything.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  382. Ann McVey

    Not only is there a lack of reading and reading skills being developed, there is the physical aspect. Kids just don't go out and play anymore, we are cultivating a crop of fat, lazy, stupid kids.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  383. Jasmine in Germany

    Six hours a day is too much. Why invite self-inflicted diabetes type 2 and photo sensitive epilepsy, not to mention assisting your children in becoming stupid? Studies have shown that children who spend a lot of time looking at screens have weaker skills in reading, writing, drawing, creativity and imagination. Many parents do not put the proper effort into child rearing, it's extra work you know. It's easier to let the screen be the babysitter. I've already had the experience with four 18 year olds in a car, not one knew how to use a road map when the navigation system malfunctioned. Step 1: listen to President Obama, he has asked that parents reduce their children's screen time.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  384. George R Quarles

    Jack, What it means to watch too much TV or internet means Sarah Paulin might get into the whitehouse. We'll have alot more republicans !

    George R Quarles
    Forestville Ca

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  385. Guy Foxx

    What is happening with children today in the UK is what happens when a country lives above its means & calls it "never having had it so good". The UK is a country where parents have "supposedly" built wealth on debt and are so busy thinking of ways to cope with repaying the debt, they have lost track of what their children get up to on a daily basis. In the average UK household, the parents hardly have any relationships with their children because in they are so hard-up in thought as a result of debt that they want the kids out of the way & so provide them with automated toys like consoles & computers.
    Parents are also willing to accept any explanation their children give them for spending hours online & infront of consoles because there is no time or will to to do any verification. Aside that, the education system in the UK has become so lax, that it is not un-common to find a university student who cannot write an essay. Infact it is normal these days that alot of University students are at their institutions because that is the next stage in their lives.
    The UK is failing in terms of producing productive citizens who will be assets to their country in the coming future & until the govt goes back to basics & stops the laissez-faire attitude to governance, this country will soon be a disaster especially with the recession & its threats......!!!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  386. forrest

    Well its a scary thought. Especially when you realize these are our next leaders. I blame parents and also tv networks for putting on garbage . There should be some regulation on the quality of shows

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  387. Patrick

    Kids now adays are watching to much TV, and playing on the computer too much. Reading has been destroyed by poor parenting and commericalization. This is why in 20 years America is going to go down the drain.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  388. Marco

    Hi Jack! I'm 27-years-old and I was brought up to appreciate books, and I credit that fact to my love of reading and writing till this day. It really saddens me to know that within a generation's time since I was young that kids today don't read as much as they should. I'm enrolled in college and some times when we have to work in groups there's always at least ONE person that has trouble spelling simple words they should have learned in elementary school. I'm not trying to sound superior, but if you're in college and are still struggling with basic spelling and grammatical issues then something is wrong.

    In the end it is and ALWAYS will be the responsibility of the parents to lay down the law for their kids; not the other way around. That's certainly how it was when I was a kid and I didn't dare think of arguing or throwing a fit with my mom after she told me what to do. These kids today (not all but most) are pretentious, and they need a good dose of reality to put them in their place. And until the parents start acting like parents then don't be surprised to see this trend continue.

    Thanks.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  389. Michael

    I find this to be true, yet also untrue. I believe that video games are not only an art form, but also it helps children make friends. I know firsthand how hard it can be for children who do not fit in with everyone else, maybe because they are different in height weight, vision, etc. I think that online games are important because they allow children to interact socially with other children without having to worry about whether someone will talk to them or not because they are too fat or too thin, too tall or too short. For the first time the geeks, the nerds, the four-eyes, and the fatties have had a chance to interact with other children normally. Many kids spend a lot of time on electronic devices: but it is not all bad. I, for one, know that reading is still quite popular among students, and that video games should be recognized as just as important.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  390. Chas

    2 comments. First the study asked children what they looked at the last time they were on the internet. This being an indicator of what children do on the internet is highly erroneous for too many obvious reasons and shouldn't even be a question in a scientific study. It shouldn't even be reported by CNN. Second, no, there is nothing wrong with allowing children to spend 6 hours in front of a screen. The real issue isn't how long children spend or the fact it is a "screen" but what are the children looking at? That is the issue that deserves discussion. The only thing wrong w/ 6 hours in front of a screen is the harm it could do to your eyes (if any; I'm not a doctor).

    Eugene, Oregon

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  391. Tom

    Just try to apply for a job and tell them you have no computer skills, but you have read tons of books about it – you know the outcome of that interview.
    Let the kids play with the latest technical devices and welcome the next generation of technical support engineers, IT professionals etc.
    Respectfully,
    an IT Pro who walked that path..

    January 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  392. Jennifer

    6 hours of screen time a day?!?!? This is mortifying to me, an early childhood teacher, who sees the effects of too much screen time everyday in my classroom! These "screen kids" can tell me about various websites, how to play this game and that however they do not know how to read or are rarely read to, are frequently overweight due to lack of outside playtime/exercise and lack essential age appropriate skills/knowledge becuase they sit in front of a computer or TV. Don't get me wrong – does my own child watch TV or use the computer? Sure, in moderation, but for 6 hours a day??!?!? NO WAY!!!! I understand computers are part of our future but they do not and should NEVER replace books, playing make believe or with blocks and cars and most importantly, replace interaction with a real person.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  393. Colleen @ Saginaw, Michigan

    The improvement in hand-eye coordination is a small gain compared to the downsides. The desensitizing of kids in regards to violence is as bad as the downturn in the ability to process informational text in order to make judgements. KIds would rather interact impersonally through electronics than play or talk face-to-face. A generation of inactive, ou-of-shape couch potatoes is being raised who have very short attention spans.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  394. Leesa

    As a 20-year veteran teacher, I've spent more than half my career watching children metamorphose from book readers to "compuphiles" addicted to the Internet. During that time, I have been consistently told by "education gurus" that the change to "e-education" is a good thing, and that computer literacy and e-books will supplement and enhance students' reading and comprehension skills.
    Horse hockey!
    The major results of "online literacy" have been significant decreases in students' reading repertoires, critical thinking skills, and writing abilities. Fewer and fewer youngsters are able to read and write coherently and cohesively beyond a text message. In a few years, if this trend continues, we'll be replacing composition courses with classes in instant messaging!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  395. Robert

    Aside from recognizing the obvious physical risks to the eyes of young people who engage in long periods of gazing at tv s and computer screens, we should consider one important idea. EVOLUTION. The era of the book is in it's twilight. This new generation will learn through what ever means that engages their curiosity. The only difference between us older folks and them is the tools they use to do it. Instead of worrying about how to get them to read books we should be trying to figure out how to help them safely gain knowledge through these technologies.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  396. Camden Mullis

    Yes, children DO spend more time on the internet and computers! However, there is something that adults fail to realize–the adult world is changing as well! Some folks think that children will not be able to function in an adult world, however, when our children are adults, the adult world will have changed completely!

    By educating themselves in technology, our children are THE ONLY ONES preparing themselves for the future that will one day exist!

    Schools, and our idea of education, need to change dramatically! We live in an interactive age. Textbooks are not interactive (unless you’re writing in them, ripping out pages, or throwing them across the room). The internet (2.0) allows our children to interact with, manipulate, and operate on their environment. We should encourage them through structured technological studies that pull together core curricula.

    The world is changing. How can we fault our children for preparing themselves to live in this world?

    Here’s a thought: Apply the rate of technological advancement for the past 60 years to the next 15. That’s the world that children today live in. I like this popular statement: “We’re all on a careening bus–and the children are driving!”

    Camden Mullis
    cmullis@zcs.k12.in.us
    Zionsville, IN

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  397. James C.

    One risk from too much screen time is lack of awareness to the fact that this topic is already old news. There have already been books in print about this very topic... and this pre-dates the internet. Look up Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves To Death" at the library. If you don't have time... do a Google search.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  398. Robert

    Dear Mr Cafferty,

    You raise an interesting point. However ultimately I think it depends on what information young people are focusing their attention on. The internet is an nonrestrictive and interactive learning tool, online media outlets, encyclopedias, forums, blogs and organizations provide young, curious individuals with a means by which to acquire various degrees of knowledge and information. The print medium is simply evolving in a digital age.

    However, that is not to say that the "screen" is also a means by which young people can waste their productive time. Social networking sites, instant messaging and other forms of online communication, albeit useful, can sometimes lead to unproductive habits.

    Moreover, many adults spend six hours or more in front of a screen, this question can be addressed to adults as well as youths.

    Best regards,

    Robert
    Montreal

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  399. Kenneth

    On Nina's comment:

    How will they not get a decent job? It's not saying what they are doing. If they are studying, looking at the news, learning skills (like me, i'm using Microsoft Flight Simulator to work my way to my private pilots licence). I'd much prefer this than reading a magazine or a fantasy novel. Even textbooks, i think most kids connect more with a webquest than they do with textbooks.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  400. Jonathan

    I am a teacher from Brooklyn, NY who implemented my own online course management system (csdestine.org) and my students spend about two of those six hours completing their coursework. Maybe we can start catering more to their learning habits.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  401. mary fruge

    Six hours a day in front of a tv teaches kids nothing – have you employed a junior or senior in high school? Not only can they not read simple instructions, most cant add and subtract – homes witj children under 18 should not be allowed to have tv unless locked between 8am and 10 pm. Parents who allow children to watch tv should be jailed – our kids are growing up to be idiots!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  402. JoshuaRising - FL

    Jack, frankly we don't permit it. Our sons computers are loaded with software to prevent things like that. They stay active through play, exercise and school work. We know where they've been in cyberspace and what they're doing. As for Television? They have a few programs we permit them to watch ONLY after all school work is done and checked. They each have a library in their rooms and they use it. They use it or they know they turn into a brainless wonder like Rush Limbaugh

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  403. Arthur in Orange County, CA

    Very little as long as this is happening everywhere else in the world, which seems to be true. Competition in the adult world would unlikely to be impeded so long as everyone else in the same generation also spent 6 hours in front of a computer screen. Giving your child an edge on life has never been easier; just make them read an hour more a day.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  404. Tommy

    It s unhealthy.It will have a bad affect on the younger generation.They will lack leadership and socialization skills.It will have a negative affect on the future.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  405. Ian from Los Angeles

    I think there should be limitations, but we live in a new age and this was bound to happen. As a 27 year old, who has only read 4 books my entire life and spent quite a long time in front of the tube as a young child and even today, I believe I've turned out just fine and am very suitable in the adult world.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  406. Doreen Suran RN

    Poor vision, poor posture, increased weight, flabby muscles, lack of imaginations, lack of creativity, inability to form independent thoughts and express them verbally and orally, and the lack of social interactions and skills. We are creating a world of robots, easily controlled and manipulated but unable to communicate with each other.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  407. Sarah

    As an English of 21 years, I am appalled at the decreasing lack of reading and writing skills. The school at which I work is planning to implement computers starting next year for all freshmen. We are also told to find E-Books for the students to use. This is completely ridiculous. Is a student going read a novel on line? I tried it and had a headache by the second page. The adminstration promotng this initiatve has little classroom experience (i.e former p.e. teachers, a tech person with no college degree, and a coach. Furthermore, the cost to the students, in addition to tuition, could potentially destroy the school considering the economy (private school). I suggest that administrations, parents, and politicians visit a school to see the reality with which we struggle. Our we turning into Fahrenheit 451? I will never teach without a book in my hand whether the students use E-books or not.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  408. CR

    Nothing compares to reading when it comes to mental activity. For the past twenty years we have been 'dumbing down' our brains through videogames and internet socializing. The intellect is stimulated through reading comprehension and not visual imagery; this is the problem with America, and it starts with adults who have come to embrace television and the internet as entertainment, rather than the enjoyment of reading through imagination. To quote Edith Hamilton "To be able to be caught up into the world of thought – that is to be educated."

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  409. A Jones

    This assertion is false. The kids are using their cognitive abilities creating and compiling their ideas. They need more access to computer technology in schools, and this information is just a means to stop funding technology. I see it more that the kids are underground with their palm pilots, ipods, texting, podcasts and other technology in that they have created their own language. They need guidance and expectations not ignorant criticism.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  410. Tyrone Lofton, New York City

    They're highest aspirations may be a contestant on American Idol, a personal shopper on the Kardashians, or they will eventually end up a contestant on the Biggest Loser from watching too much t.v.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  411. Rebecca, Naples, Florida

    Hi Jack,
    I'm an educator and a mom. I cringe when I hear of children spending more time watching tv or playing video games instead of reading. While computers are an important part of our everyday life, reading is the number one contributor to a child's growing vocabulary. My own boys love to learn their A, B, C's using computer software but it limits their imagination. Nothing can replace a good book! I believe it's ultimately the parents responsibility to limit the time their children stare motionless at the tube or computer screen. Imagine that!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  412. Steve in Ohio

    Our local schools gave my kids the joy of reading. I gave my kids computers and taught them how to use them. Now they all have jobs with computers on their desks. Will your kids be able to compete? It's true you can't smell or feel an eBook, but you're not likely to find the last page missing either.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  413. Errick Ayala Los Angeles, California

    I spend several hours a day on the computer and watching television. but the majority of that time is spent catching up on the events of the day or looking up information. I believe the question comes down to parents regulating what their children watch and I don't except that whole argument that the parents can't be around all the time either. There is so much technology available today for very little money that allows parents to set decide what their kids can watch and when.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  414. Carola Meyer

    I agree fully with the 6 hours being too much for a child to sit behind a computer. I have a little boy myself and he likes to play games on the internet. He can do that for about 2 hours a day. The problem I have with it is that I had to sit with him because there are always links where he would click on and it would take him to some site you don't want your kids to see, be it violence or porn or anything not suited for kids. Therefore we have made a site for kids that is as safe as possible. There are no outside links and even though there is a chat room, it is monitored.
    They can play games, watch videos and make friends. Why don't you come and visit us at facebookforkids.com and look for yourself.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  415. Dwayne

    Jack this is the digital age, where at a time when everything from books to blogs are accessible through screens. Today kids have iphones, e-books and blackberry's that access information instantly. This generation will create developers and computer programmers that will use technology to make our lives better.We still read we just do it on nice shiny flat screens and touch displays.This is the new digital generation Jack get use to it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  416. Russ Firestone

    As a university undergraduate media instructor, I'd offer that the the amount of time young people spend in front of a computer screen - like a TV screen - isn't nearly as important as what they're DOING with that time.

    Virtually everything they could read in "hard copy" form is available on the Internet - books, newspapers, magazines, etc. Most of the course manuals and reading list materials at my school are provided to the students as digital files, which they can download to print if they choose! It comes down to the same issue as with that "vast wasteland" called television, of which you are a part: guidance and supervision by schools and parents.

    One other quick note: it's ridiculous to say that these computer-literate young people won't be prepared for the adult world - when they become adults, it WILL be their world!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  417. Elton A (Erie, PA)

    It means that outdoor activities that kept children in shape like playing outside and running around will decrease while childhood obesity and health problems at an early age will increase. It's a shame how lazy kids are getting these days.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  418. Seth from Long Beach

    I have to agree when it comes to television, but when it comes to computer and usage, it just depends on how uses it. I catch stories from my hometown newspaper that's 500 miles away in Northern California, do research for my many college class by reading online journals and articles, and watch Youtube clips which are more original than what's on television nowadays. My parents can get a hold of my brother while he's traveling in Nepal thanks to Skype, and I and many others get to interact with your segment on CNN.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  419. Glenn Anderson, Stockholm; Sweden

    The rest of the world is quite Pleased to have you confirm that your youth is as involved in massmedia as much as it is. It will make it a lot easier for the rest of the world when American children show up on the playing field thinking that Stockholm has Polar bears in the streets and is a small mountainous country that makes watches. If one has never read a book it is impossible to write one.

    Let me congratulate you on your choice of President. The new group in charge may be able to get it right, maybe not, but I am convinced that they shall at least Sincerely try. That should be enough.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  420. stephanie

    I find it very sad that our children, even very small children, have become so dependent and addicted to technology in all of its various forms. Not only do they not know how to play and are not developing positive interpersonal skills, they also are not reading as your report suggests and are becoming technologically savvy morons. Spelling and grammar skills have suffered. The sad thing is that the school systems are facilitating this problem by virtue of the fact that they have thrown the books away, and gone to computers for students, which opens up another whole realm of issues in the classroom.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  421. Adam Bennett

    This problem is an addiction that's far too widespread and and far too accepted. I waste almost every minute of my free time on my computer, not one moment of it devoted to educating myself in any real way.
    If we allow this trend to continue future generations will have even less interest in the outside world and its much needed improvement.

    Adam Bennett,
    Sheridan, AR

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  422. Chase

    Illiteracy, poor speech and a lack of imagination. But, too late to ask – most people have already caused the death of the adverb.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  423. Cheryl Griffith

    As an former educator in two different states, I have seen the reading levels of individual students decline over the years. Case in point: Many states now offer two types of high school diplomas: the "true" high school diploma indicating one has finished twelve years of curriculum with success, and the other type of diploma which basically says one has attended school and been exposed to the curriculum. Ever notice how quickly parents can brag how many yards their football son rushed or how many average points a son/daughter can score during a basketball game? Try asking what reading level a son/daughter might be on, and the parent will be dumbfounded, probably telling you what grade their child is in. I saw, as an educator, too many seniors on the fourth grade reading level. Reading, like sports, needs to be practiced, so that we can have good readers in our society. While our newly elected president has an Ivy League education, I was encouraged when I read his autobiography that he had done a lot of reading in his life. I believe him not only to be Ivy League educated, but self-educated as well. I hope he inspires us to "educate ourselves" by reading.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  424. Mike Scala, New York

    There is no risk associated with too much screen time, except maybe to one's eyesight. Virtually all information found in books is also available online. There have also been studies that using the Internet improves a child's social skills. I don't see how something all kids are doing today will make them unprepared for the world they're going to inherit tomorrow.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  425. Troy E

    It seems that people don't seem to ask kids anymore, although that makes sense seeing that this is cnn. People, namely parents, are always too critical about the time their children spend online or with their video game consoles. Jack Thompson tried to do something about it, and have you been online to see the uproarious negative repsonse to his comments and cases? Parents, and apparently newscasters, tend to attack whatever is close to them, attacking the video game companies and their products. Before you criticize the gamer, take a look at the problems you face yourselfs, alcohol and drug addictions, crimes, economics, and when you figure out your own solutions, then you can come and state "problems" me and my fellow gamers apparently have about having fun.

    – A 15 year old fed-up gamer

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  426. Seren Snow

    I am 15 years old and I think that young people like myself should spend less time in front of the screens. Parents should begin limiting the amount of time their children spend playing video games, watching television, and using the internet. I volunteer in my local library and I almost never see people my age using the books instead of the computers. But now teens and tweens are always effected by what they see in the advertisments on TV and by thier peers.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  427. Tanner

    Lets do some math. 24 hours in a day 6 hours spent on the pc leaves you 18 hours to do other activities. Lets add 8 hours of sleep, 10 hours left. Ten Hours! Maybe your kid goes to school for 7 Hrs. That leaves 3 hours of time half of that for relaxed time such as dinner, showers, getting ready. 1.5 hrs to be crazy active kids. Hell how many adults are active for that period of time? I can tell you I have spent my fair share of time on the internet/game counsels and I am a 22 yr old Air Traffic Controller In the United States Air Force. I work at the 3rd busiest base in the world! I blame my amazing job on? you guessed it Gaming. I can't remember the last time I used Algebra 2, or Spanish 4. The adults that are complaining here have to be laughed at, they themselves are SITTING (not being active) watching TV reaching for the laptop, going to your site and ??? Sitting in front of another screen. Older people didn't grow up this way your right. They were also ignorant racist wasteful slobs. Kids don't sit on the computer and not learn anything, I learn something new every time I log on. Anything from Current events to the well being of my family and friends.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  428. Rania Magdy

    It's for sure incredibly risky to keep our kids infront of the screen for all that time but I think screens WiLL actually be their life in furture.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  429. Clinton

    Jack - Ask Larry McMurtry how much time does he spend on the Internet...Ask him if he is aware that the web browser is primarily a TEXT viewer. If a person is illiterate they CANNOT use the Internet. Not only must kids know how to read to use the Internet, they must also know 1) how to type using a keyboard, 2) use a spatial positioning device (mouse), and 3) understand a myriad of nuances of manipulating the browser that calls upon many other information processing skills [including sound and music].

    The reason why the Internet gets more attention than books is simple; its more intriguing to kids than books could ever be. Ask him also, if he is aware of books online. So, the Internet includes books and the rest of the living and evolving world of information about books and anything else you want to know available at your finger tips.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  430. Ada

    Jack to much time in front of the screen will eventually cause irresverable problems such as arithis, problems with eye sight and more but do most of the parents care enough to so it.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  431. Rita from MD

    I seem to recall one of President Obama's campaign speeches touched on the fact that parents must turn off the gameboys and such and spend quality time with their children. It makes sense to guide your children to be multi-taskers both learning new things on the internet (of course with parental control) and teaching them to have good social skills on a personal level. Of course instilling a love or reading/learning is at the top of the priority list. We cannot totally remove the electronics from our children's lives, (my children actually teach me things about the internet now). It is a very tough juggling act, but each parent should commit to take some time, even if it's just a few hours a week to interact with their children. It's very important for the emotional growth of our kids. It helps them become well-rounded, caring people. In fact, taking up Pres. Obama's call to volunteer is probably the best way to spend time interacting with your kids and do something wonderful for the community at the same time.
    Good luck to all us parents in this vitally important role. The success of our future generation and welfare of our country is at stake.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  432. Thomas

    It's all Gutenberg’s fault. If the young people wouldn't reed so many books they will be able to learn how to take care of the fields properly.
    That would be the answer two hundred years ago.

    Children learn how to read even faster with the usage of Internet and the writhing issues is silly because they only replaced the pen with a keyboard.

    However the content of media is alarming and the fact that the most isn't contributing to personal development, but are only produced for entertainment makes you worry.

    But who is in the first line responsible for the kids proper education and fulfilling live? The parents! If they allow their kids to play games for 6 hours a day haw can they blame games? In most cases the interest of parents is so low that thay allow children to be in front of a TV or on the computer as long as they will.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  433. Bailkl

    I am 10 years old. I think 6 hours is WAY too much time. Your brain and eyes can get damaged. You don't get any physical activity.How are kids' supposed to meet freinds if they are on screens for 6 hours?
    i think that kids' should get 1 hour during the school week and 2 hours on the weekend. it is up to parents to know what is best for children.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  434. karen Spector "K"

    Dear Jack,
    I spend 15 hours a day in front of screens–12 hours reading and writing on my desktop and laptops. I also check facebook, blog on WordPress, surf the web, tweet, podcast, buy stuff, and design my web pages.

    Isn't all of this readin' and writin'? Let the kids read and write with all of the technology we have today!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  435. Diana from Texas

    YES! They do spend too much time online and in front of the TV and it impacts their attention span in the classroom and stunts their intellectual growth. As a middle school Reading teacher, I get many complaints from parents about this problem. My first question to them: Do you read? We must model the behaviors we desire. Turn off the TV and the computer and spend a half hour reading each night. You will be amazed to see the difference. Better yet, read books WITH your children; select books together and discuss them as you read. Small things go a long way.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  436. Antoine in Plant City, FL

    It's depressing. First, most of the stuff kids and adults watch (TV or internet) in general is garbage. More importantly, it's not just the lack of physical activity but the social ramifications as well. I'm 21, and I grew up playing video games. The difference is that we used to play with real people- your friends and family sitting next to you; not some online, faceless, emotionless character. We've come to a point where kids today would rather interact with characters online than with real people face to face!!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  437. Michelangelo Missoni, NY

    My parents were always careful with how I spent my time in front of screens. But as I grew up and began to learn about Cable's 1000 channels, and the X-Box's Halo and Call of Duty, my mind forgot all about books. Today I find it hard, not to read, but to concentrate on a single passage. I find myself skimming pages, as if I was on the internet, and even ignoring entire passages. As I started to grow more and more aware of this I decided to try and read more books. But ironically, because of school, I find only some time to read. Since I want to become part of the book world once more, I have started to try and read books over vacations and weekends. During weekdays, however, I rely on magazines, like the Economist and Time. I do disagree with the statement "The end of the culture of book..." My older sister has also grown up in a very digitalized world. She started too "get into" reading around the age of 18. What I see here is not the end of books, but the beginning of a division. Our youth is governed by T.V.s and Consoles. But as we will grow we will start to find these pastimes no longer satisfying. And we will turn our minds to books once more.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  438. Scott (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Jack, The recent movie "Idiocracy" portrayed a near future society where citizens are ignorant and completely devoid of fundamental communication or other skills necessary for effective navigation of daily life activities. Children today are incapable of performing long hand mathematics, writing a resume, or drafting a simple business letter using proper grammar. I can't tell you the number of recent graduates that can't differentiate between the proper grammatical use of "there" vs. "their". Computers should augment education, not replace it. I fear we have an entire generation before us that will be socially ignorant, capable of communicating only in emoticons or chat jargon and you can forget basic math without the benefit of a calculator.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  439. Thomas - Virginia

    The risk is that we might invent the next youtube, myspace, facebook, etc. As a young person I'm rather insulted by this notion that we are just mindlessly frittering away our time using technology. The fact of the matter is that my generation is more prepared to handle the challenges that this country faces because of these revolutionary technologies that were not available to any previous generation. We're capable of far more than you realize.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  440. Milan from New York, New York

    Although this is the digital era, kids should understand that this is not the only enjoyment or pastime there is out there. Imagination comes from reading and there's a whole new world just waiting to be explored. It shouldn't be that because J.K. Rowling has stopped writing the Harry Potter series or there's no more Twilight that kids look elsewhere. Not all kids are like this though, but we're talking about the majority here. I believe, personally, that if we want to make our children pursue successful careers, we have to realize that its not helping by just dumping them in front of the screens. It's not good for their eyes anyways and neither is it a very productive way to spend time. Concentrate more on your education if you want to get somewhere in life.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  441. Ian

    Although I am 18 and may be a little biased to the new technologies that have become increasingly popular to young people; spending large amounts of time looking at electronic screens is fine. I think that this can be perfectly justified by just looking at the impact of the internet on the election of Obama and the influence he has had on so many people. He was able to integrate text, email, and so many other technologies to make people feel like they were a critical part of his campaign, and the success of the country. I would say that I spend around 7-10 hours a day looking at a screen of some sort, which includes several hours at school. In my High School we have SmartBoards in every math class, every student has an email address assigned by the school, there is a TV in every room, and at least 1 computer in each room. There is nothing wrong with this. The future of our planet will be deeply intertwined with technology and in order to usher in this new age every person must be able to easily and skillfully operate these new technologies.

    P.S.
    The only reason people wrote on this blog was because we either saw it on TV (like I did), or saw it on the internet. Books are going to be obsolete in the future, its just something that we have to accept. In a few years we will be able to read any book on the internet, its inevitable. BOOKS WILL BE NO MORE. And quite frankly its not a big deal to me. I like the internet, I like playing video games, I like watching TV. And guess what...so does every other American.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  442. BJ

    I am sixteen years old and I must say, if I hadn't had a screen in front of me, I couldn't have responded to the Cafferty File, now could I?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  443. Cheryl

    What some people don't have a grasp of is that the future of the kids today will be very much different than our reality is. With virtual environments and clowd computing becoming more and more mainstream, spending time on social websites and virtual gaming will help them hone the skills they will need in their future. Don't get me wrong, I know they need to learn the three R's, too. But internet savvy will be essential to their ability to work and communicate in their future.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  444. Randy

    nForget it.d

    January 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  445. Berke (bur-KAY) , New York, NY

    1 person said the irony of watching this on the tv and writing. 1 person said that he uses the internet for good things, like school. 1 said it's because of WHAT they are looking at, not how long they are looking at it. BINGO! 1 more thing...psychologists will tell you that very young kids spending too much time in front of ANY screen may bring about ADHD.... yes....what happened to those days of running around outside. I grew up in the 80s...my mom used to put a lock on the TV room door on weedays....after school. Obviously not every kid is using it poorly. But social skills are definitely lacking...and the ability to interact with others IN PERSON.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  446. Derek from WV

    Social networking sites are a great way to maintain a network of professional contacts. Several companies use the online video game World of Warcraft as an effective team building exercise. The only ”risk“ I can see is that the kids of today will be better prepared for the world of tomorrow.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  447. Angela

    Risks of too much “screen time” for children?
    I think that the risks of too much "screen time" for children depends on the child. Some children can handle more screen than others. Parents should monitor the children and "screen time" should be something the children have earned. If they're doing good in school, homework completed and other chores done. . . then why not some screen time?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  448. Eli from Canada

    Too much sceen time can be dangerous for all ages – but kids especially. There will always be a handfull of kids who become very successful regardless of their pass-times; but for the rest of the children, their addictions to technology not only divides them from their family and friends, but it will divide them from their future leaders and governments.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  449. Alejandra

    Miami, FL

    I guess I can speak from experience, having been a child, now young adult, who has grown up with electronics. I spent a ton of time in front of screens. I have had a computer since I was seven, and until social networking became popular I only used it for educational fun, or just plain information seeking. Now I socialize and read the news. I spent hours playing video games and watching TV. But I was also read to quite often as a child, and developed a natural attraction toward it. So I balanced all my activities, and the variety meant I was never bored and usually learning. Honestly, it depends on the personality of the child and how they're raised (as well as intelligence). If they don't like reading and learning, they won't do either, and if screens weren't around, they would just play with regular toys.

    So here's a little advice: read to your kids and make it a positive and memorable activity. Buy them educational games and have them watch educational shows. Do all of that, and try not to blame yourself if they grow up and decide it's not important to them anymore.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  450. Baillie

    I am 10 years old. I think 6 hours is WAY too much time. Your brain and eyes can get damaged. You don’t get any physical activity.How are kids’ supposed to meet freinds if they are on screens for 6 hours?
    i think that kids’ should get 1 hour during the school week and 2 hours on the weekend. it is up to parents to know what is best for children.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  451. William Thill

    What's the risk? It depends how they are spending their time on the computer. I grant that there are many more distractions in the online world, but I shudder to think about the future of a student who is an "avid reader," but unable to work / operate wisely in the online world.

    As an educator, I have a lot of students who dutifully "read" their textbook, but they aren't necessarily understanding or thinking about intellectually demanding ideas. Sometimes a deeper understanding can be reached more effectively by interacting with the same material with their peers through questions and discussion.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  452. Dee in Florida

    What is the risk? I'd say it is much the same as expecting adults to spend an eight-hour day doing the exact same thing!

    And we can see the results in the fact that Americans are fat as pigs.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  453. Walter Topic

    The next generation will be fine, the computer only will get better and so will the kides using it. It startes out a play thing then a real thing for lifes jounney.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  454. Eric Bracke, Fort Collins, CO

    It's not just reading and writing skills, Jack, it's socialization skills as well. Have you dealt with a 17-year old lately at a retail store lately? They're idiots. I believe that parents today are generally lazy and find it easier to put thier children in front of a tv or computer screen rather than interact with them. I'm afraid that the next generation coming up the ranks will be fat, lazy, unable to read or write well, and be generally stupid.
    But, I'm old, and all old guys think that way.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  455. R. J. Mac

    Jack,
    The question is what they are doing on computer, not the question of time. I could have written these words on paper and mailed them to you. Would they have had a different meaning done that way?
    Reading a book for hours, only to discover it did not have the data I needed, compared to Googleing thousands of books on the internet to find the data. I think used wisely, computers are the better way.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  456. Jason

    It is very dangerous and is a direct cuase of the social ills taking place in our day. Parents have let the t.v. and gameboy to become day care centers. Where else do kids learn to pick up guns, run into schools and malls, and kill people they don't know without any feeling?

    January 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  457. Nicholas Waugh from Philadelphia, Pa

    Yes, I believe that reading is ultimately a key to success. One of the biggest issues with our youth is that many of them are not literate. But it is not only the childs' responsibility to pick up and read it but also their parents responsibility to tell the child how advantageous reading is and how it will affect their lives years to come. Also I believe the way you handle a child being in front of a screen for six hours is that you limit them to what they do by giving them a time table on what they are allowed to do. For the first hour give them the time to be social on the internet and for the rest of the time make sure they are involved in educational activities over the computer:involve them in online activities in which they can absorb knowledge. Video games on the other hand can ultimately be taken out because I find nothing advantageous about them at all. If this route is followed, then our future , which we currently call our youth, should be fine.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  458. Joan

    My 3 youngest children (ages 27-23) are at the beginning of the internet & video game generation.
    When they were in elementary school I realized that none of them enjoyed reading and they weren't choosing reading as a leisure time activity.
    On the premise that if we don't enjoy something, and see no reward for doing it, then we'll avoid that activity I decided to reward them for reading. I also asked their teachers to review their reading skills.

    We had a family outing to a restaurant for lunch and then went to the bookstore!
    At the bookstore, I helped each child pick out several books that looked interesting to them, and then I paid them to read – $ .10 per page.
    I also changed the bedtime rules – each one had to be in bed 1/2 hour earlier, and that 1/2 hour had to be spent reading. Less than $2.00 per child later, each one came to me individually and said that I didn't have to pay them anymore to read. They loved the books and asked if instead of paying them to read would I buy them more books.
    Their reading skills improved, Their grades improved. And they all still love reading, although my daughter will still only read books about horses!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  459. komlan

    digital and audio books are the answers. For me books are the best sleeping one could give me. I don't last the second page. we are in the digital age and no need of nostalagy

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  460. Pat in St. Louis, MO

    As a research nurse, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether extended exposure to a computer monitor adversely effects visual acuity or if extended exposure to CPUs, cell phones or other electronic devices causes physical problems in children. Furthermore, the adverse effects may not be known until a child or teenager ages, possibly being delayed until adulthood. Secondly, as a parent, I used the history feature on the computers in our home to monitor the sites my children were visiting. Parents have a responsibility to discuss the appropriateness of some sites with their children, not just block these sites from children, as children are smart – they'll find their way to these sites unless they receive an explanation beyond the word "no". My children are currently 17 and 21, and both have a laptop, a desktop, an iPOD and a Blackberry phone. My son earns money creating Facebook banner ads. My daughter has an iTouch just for her electronic books, as she feels this is more environmentally responsible than purchasing a physical book. While I have some of McMurtry's books on my shelves, and have read a few, Lonesome Dove is the only one of his books that has been read by my daughter. I would hardly consider her to be illiterate, though, due to the hundreds of books she has on her iTouch and the thousands of books she has read. I think McMurtry might be more upset about fewer readers for his books than fewer readers overall. Relax about the next generation – the kids are alright!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  461. Russ Martin

    In all the hours kids spend on computers, little, if any, is spent reading about world and national events, or researching academic subjects. There is a tsunami of garbage on the internet that attracts them. This includes, porn, celebrity info, games, texting, YouTube, and much more that I can only imagine. Don't assume that your precious child is working when on the computer, or they are developing IT skills. Much of what they are doing is worthless to a future employer.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  462. Ginny Presti

    Dear Mr. Cafferty, At nine years old, while we were living overseas, my
    son wrote the following for an assignment. "The first book that
    was ever read to me was on the day I got home from the hospital. The
    book was Good Night Moon.............I live in a world of books and I forever shall continue reading. If I were to give up reading it would be like loosing one of my senses." My son continued to read AND play those dreadful computer games. He is now 19 and junior at a UCSC
    with a 3.95 average. We tried to encourage him to love learning and
    looking back, I realize that our children need space to grow but we need to encourage the value of knowledge....Sincerely,Ginny

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  463. Jason Meriaho

    It's all about finding the happy medium. When I was a child and personal computers did not exist we had a term for these kids as well, bookworms. Without balance, kids lose the abilty to work out problems, socialize and be truly creative. They get fat, unhealthly and will be unhappy adults. Simply put, explore the outside world!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  464. Richie F

    The time kids spend infront of computer screens is valuable. What many people seem to be unaware of is that we are changing, our technologies are evolving. Just as the common public called the invention of the automobile a threat to society in the early 1900's, it is the same concept here. The time spent on Social Networking sites develop comprehensive skills other students lack, they provide the opportunity for students to explore our diverse culture. As for the lack of book readers, that is a shame, but the internet is not at fault. The decline of books started when the first book reading was broadcasted over the first radios and it continues today. Overall, the majority of time that kids spend on the computer, especially social networks allows them to learn valuable life skills. Don't shun technology, embrace it.

    Richie
    South Dakota

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  465. Diana Lara

    This generation is glued to the TV and computers because that’s what the lack of education has taught them. The content on TV is just as horrible as the books that are now offered to young people around the world. There is a lot that can be done but too many parents are controlled by their own children and do not enforce discipline that will for a moment anger their child but in a life time have them be grateful. Children are becoming socially inapt and not using their imagination and thought process to full capacity because they have taught themselves to just trust the click of a button to do so for them. If Children cannot control an addiction to the screens in front of them it is going to be a lot easier for them to become addicted to other things. Children will repeat the action of those they spend the most time with. If that is a TV screen they are going to have a hard time in the real world. If they are focusing 6hrs a day looking at screens chances are they aren’t spending as much time on their home work and improving their education. Too many of us brush it off as normal. But if laziness becomes normal my generation will suffer from it. Too many kids are overweight because they are not active. And we all wonder why? I am sure if you did research we could probably link watching TV and computer screens to the increase of children with depressions, add and add. These are the kind of things that cause problems. But instead of focusing on their real problems we just give them drugs .God help us.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  466. Sandra McKay

    The excessive time that young people spend in front of the computer leads to the further "dumbing down" of our nation, and causes the onslaught of obesity and poor health; the latter two are in jeopardy because children are not getting enough exercise and fresh air. Perhaps President Obama's wise plan of unselfish volunteerism will make a difference in the physical and mental well-being of the young. Come to think of it, more reading and getting away from in front of the computer wouldn't hurt us older Americans either.

    Sandra

    January 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  467. Stephen- St. Louis, MO

    If you're trying to convince me to avoid the comprehensive video game that makes me read, converse and think with other people just so I can read something I have no interest in, it won't work. Besides paper readership has been declining for years ask the Chicago Tribune, Borders. You're using a computer and have a blog because it's part of your job how often are you on the computer? The real problem is broken educational system and unwilling parents, an age-disconnected society. I'm one of those 6+ kids, but I read books too. Try asking this to the people its about and I suspect you'd get a different answer. Ask the new President about the first kids. Now I'm going back to exercising with my Wii.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  468. Nicholas Waugh from Philadelphia, Pa

    Yes, I believe that reading is ultimately a key to success. One of the biggest issues with our youth is that many of them are not literate. But it is not only the childs’ responsibility to pick up a book and read it but also their parents responsibility to tell the child how advantageous reading is and how it will affect their lives years to come. Also I believe the way you handle a child being in front of a screen for six hours is that you limit them to what they do by giving them a time table on what they are allowed to do. For the first hour give them the time to be social on the internet and for the rest of the time make sure they are involved in educational activities over the computer:involve them in online activities in which they can absorb knowledge. Video games on the other hand can ultimately be taken out because I find nothing advantageous about them at all. If this route is followed, then our future , which we currently call our youth, should be fine.

    Had to make a correction

    January 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  469. Sage, LA

    I don't think that education really has anything to do with watching tv or not, Jack. I was a straight-A student but I had my time watching tv, im-ing, and playing video games. It's not fair to kids if they're expected to study and only study. I know its not like that these days, but we need to let them do what they have to do: be kids. Nothing going to happen if we take them off from the net or tv– it's just going to make matters an itsy bit more complicated and worse than before.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  470. Brian S.

    As somebody who creates digital media content for teenagers, and focuses on emerging platforms, I would say that Larry McMurtry is correct - we are witnessing the end of the culture of the book, when defined as "the printed page."

    With mobile devices, portable laptops, and e-books, it is now just as easy to bring a connected digial "screen" with you wherever you go as it is a paper book. Only these devices connect you to millions of books, not just one.

    Technophobes should not fear their children looking at screens. They should just make certain the content they consume is of value. The entire world is available to them on-demand...at the click of a button. A connected computer means we risk our children being empowering!

    The only negative risk of allowing kids to spend 6 hours in front of computer screens occurs when parents do not monitor or select the content on the screen for their child.

    As for movies, games, and other forms of entertainment being consumed on digital devices... there is quality content to be found here too. Parents need to pay attention, get involved, share the screen with their kids! They will learn a thing or two!

    Welcome to the 21st century!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  471. Nicholas Waugh from Philadelphia, Pa

    Yes, I believe that reading is ultimately a key to success. One of the biggest issues with our youth is that many of them are not literate. But it is not only the childs’ responsibility to pick up a book and read it but also their parents responsibility to tell the child how advantageous reading is and how it will affect their lives years to come. Also I believe the way you handle a child being in front of a screen for six hours is that you limit them to what they do by giving them a time table on what they are allowed to do. For the first hour give them the time to be social on the internet and for the rest of the time make sure they are involved in educational activities over the computer:involve them in online activities in which they can absorb knowledge. Video games on the other hand can ultimately be taken out because I find nothing advantageous about them at all. If this route is followed, then our future , which we currently call our youth, should be fine.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  472. Don, WA

    Besides not developing reading and writing skills, I think too much computer time and not enough reading time as a kid inhibits the development of imagination – and imagination is the key to new ideas.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  473. Aaron Peters

    You know, if kids spend an average of 6 hours in front of screens and we think that is bad, I might ask what we think when their parents (us) spend 8 or 12 hours in front of screens. This, of course, because of the way society is changing and causing us adults to look like (or worse than) the kids we criticize. That's a reality we can't change with global specialization forcing the "good" jobs (screen jobs) to the West.

    Of course, as adults, we are supposedly already educated, intellectually and IMPORTANTLY socially (so we believe, at any rate).

    I think the real issue with youth is not that they spend much of their working hours on screens or what they do (within the bounds of positive activities – homework, blog, communicate, etc.) That's the viral nature of how they grow up. We need to know more about viral marketing as adults (Barack Obama used it to win the election).

    The REAL issue is how these kids, our next generation, grow socially. What values do they cultivate or what values are cultivated for them by the Web and video games?

    Many games (the cool ones kids like) are usually violent, valueless, and stereotypical, all combined into one learning package (experience is learning, by the way). Most kids today, in the absence of religion, do not have a way to learn values. Parents don't teach them and reilgion is not there to impart them on the side.

    So, their values are received from their experiences. And, what does the screen teach? Whatever it wants. Kids are moulded by their negative peer communications more than their positive ones (many times). As kids (think back), many of the negative kids were better influencers than the square kids. So, there's the negative side of the communication aspect (it does have positives).

    But, then, add on the video games and violence and killing, killing, killing. You get a socially inept young adult and, worse, a lot of young sociopaths running around. In a recent College course I was doing, younger members of the class (avid gamers) actually threatened to kill the instructor's wife and 4 beautiful children because he wouldn't play flag football with them. They threatened and didn't even flinch or smile. I saw a lot of that.

    That is the issue, in my humble opinion. It's about the VALUES, not the activity. Balance and work/play management are also important values. This is the critical issue facing ,not just the US, but the world.
    As to reading, my classmates at the College were functionally illiterate, as well. Couldn't even use punctuation. So, yes READING should be a VALUE we install in children.

    A. Peters
    Nova Scotia, Canada

    January 21, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  474. lucferris

    Educators must find new and more interesting ways to use some of that "screen time" for something worthwhile. Many adults spend 10 or more hours in front of a computer, the only difference is that adults get stuff done. Educators and the people and governments that support them need to wise up with the times. When I was a kid we had textbooks, maybe now kids need laptops. As long as they're learning, they may as well learn faster and more efficiently. We owe it to the species.

    -LucFerris

    January 21, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  475. Joseph Gillick

    Question: What’s the risk of allowing children to spend six hours a day in front of computer screens?

    In short Jack... isolating technolgies such that computers , TV's, game boys, Ipods etc... ALL contribute to the lessening of Emotional Intelligence skills.... aka- * E.I. or E.Q... Emotional Intelligence skill; personal competencies and abilities used BOTH, intra- personally – managing ones own emotions and emotive response, AND inter-personally – engaging and responding in a civil manner toward others.

    The exponential escalation of 'road rage' is just one example of the lessening of E.I skills.... 2 learn 2 B human... more human interaction, not less, is requisite.

    Joe Gillick
    Buchanan, Michigan

    January 21, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  476. Jake Huff

    Theirs a reason kids like video games and tv and other stuff, is because modern day books are boring and kids don't care enough to read about somthing they never gave a **** about. If you put a book in their face about thier interests like their favorite TV show, then i would guarantee kids would read more. I personality think that the computer is the only thing i have to do around this house and would be nice if this small town got somthing to do around here. I do read but not as much as i do as i play on the computer.

    This is his dad again. Why do I have to ask for the yard to be mowed. My father would have kicked my backside to my room.

    Jacob and Kelly Huff

    January 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  477. Jackie in Dallas

    There are mulitple risks, Jack. Besides encouraging the lack of reading and writing skills, that much time seriously affects their ability to relate to others: other children or adults.

    It can also cause them to see the world as virtual reality, where when people die, they can be resurrected with a click of a key, and where violence is too frequently the key to success. This is a very warped view of the real world.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  478. Jeanne Berrong, Claremont, CA

    Largely because of inactivity, childhood obesity is three times higher now than in the 70s; Type 2 diabetes, once considered an adult disease, has dramatically risen in children. Staring at a screen for hours on end also means that our children are losing out on the opportunity to develop face-to-face social skills, and it has made them dependent upon instant gratification. Adolescents multi-task with greater frequency than most adults, simultaneously texting, video-chatting, AIMing, watching TV shows on the internet, listening to music and e-mailing. At a time when it's become the norm to medicate our kids because of their inability to focus at school, it's time to buck up and do our job as parents by "unplugging" the kids and involving them in engaging activities that help them to develop focus and patience. Less really is more.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  479. Kat L.

    However our children are choosing to educate themselves today has certainly been defined by the errors of those who are leading them, including parents, teachers, false News Reporting and and Corrupt politicians. I fear the age of the greater age of reading and the book, are being lost and with all that is happening not just in the U.S., but globally, there will one day be no excuse for this lack of education.
    Althought ratings may fall even for CNN, I say get unplugged.. shut down those video games and introduce your children, your illiterate, to the true wealth and benefits of reading and education found in many good books !!

    January 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  480. Suma

    There is a high risk of kids confining to a small world by spending less time reading and more time chatting online, watching youtube or getting on the socila network. This leads to lack of worldly knowlege,which is one of the reasons for today's world's view on The United states – lack of knowledge and understanding of other parts of the world. Not having worldy knowldege is very dangerous especially in the current situations.

    Being the hope and builders of our future world, it is very important that the kids get out and get involved in activities that help build a safe, peaceful, fun and friendly world.

    January 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  481. Mary

    Mr.Cafferty, I myself am a child and love watching CNN, but to answer your question... Children DO watch too much T.V. but we also read! I mean not as much as before, like my parents tell me all about the fun they had running outside and spending time with their family, which makes me sad... The only thing is, if they had to find information they had to go to their library, in which our case is much better we just have to watch T.V. I mean if they wanted to watch the inauguration(which was AMAZING), they would have to travel to D.C. which many couldn't do now or at that time. When we watch T.V. we see things that infrom us or things that ruin our mids, in which case the informational T.V. shows that are aired are not at all bad to watch but all parents and kids know that nobody watches those so really you kids (sadly including me) are ruining our lives...

    January 21, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  482. Eddie Michael Beck

    Jack six hour's in front of the pc screen for kids in such a young age is bad and wrong, kids needs a strong leadership from parents to direct them, and not allow them to grow up as a pc independently freaks, many hour's pc stuff should be limited to the bitter end if you want your kids to have a life at all, and that needs tough and swift action by, parents only, they should swallow their pride and spit it up loud and clear, enough is enough, and if that does not work? just take away the laptops and lock them away like we did Jack and it works perfect, force the kids to prove to their parents that they do desserve some pc time after they opened enough books and all that needed up bringing stuff, we have kids here in Norway which are on a pc rehab because of the dissastress results, that is talking about 16 hour's a day pc junk,lets hope our kids don't become a plastic cards and digital brain washed empty scull kids who will become a burdon on them self's and their future not forgeting the system too, but the situation room and the Jack Cafferty file is totaly allowed because that is only needed knowledge i guess. Eddie Michael, Norway

    January 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  483. Darren

    It is my belief that this much time in front of a screen is the single most contributing factor in childhood obesity. When I was younger that six hours would have been spent in a playground, playing some type of sport or riding my bicycle.

    In my childhood days children that were obese were far fewer than we see today. It seems in fact that there has been a flip and healthier children are now in the few.

    Darren
    Oshawa, Ontario. Canada

    January 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm |