Go ahead and try your hand at defining time—that highly elusive commodity that we never seem to have enough of, that we’re always running out of and claiming that with more, then oh, the things we would accomplish . . . So, go ahead . . .
Time is ________________________________________________________________
How’d you do? Here’s what Montgomery County 8th grader April H. came up with—and it sounds just about right to me: “Time is opportunity flying by.” Agree?
Here are a few more definitions to consider as we celebrate this National Time Management Month:
· “Never say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day as were given Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, and Leonardo da Vinci.” ~ unknown
· “Time is our scarcest resource.” ~ unknown
· “What you do is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something you left behind—let it be something good.” ~ Successories
· “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” ~ Successories
So every morning, are you up and running—or simply running out of time every day? And when not engaged in work, chores, eating, and sleeping, what are your guilty pleasures? Facebooking? Web surfing? TV viewing? Book reading? Phone calling?
For our 8- to 18-year-olds, about 7 hours and 38 minutes are spent every day using media for recreational purposes. That’s 53 hours a week!
Meanwhile, researchers at California State University have even more hair-raising news for us. For starters, they found that 80% of teens “can’t imagine a day without technology,” and, as if that’s not enough, they also found that:
· 9- to 11-year-olds are online one hour a day.
· Older children spend more than 2 hours surfing the Web and another 4 hours emailing, instant messaging, and chatting.
· 5- to 8-year-olds communicate “electronically”—emailing, instant messaging, texting, engaging in chats, and talking on the phone–30 minutes a day.
· 9- to 12-year-olds communicate ‘electronically” for almost 2-1/2 hours a day.
· 12- to 14-year-olds communicate “electronically” for more than 6 hours a day.
· 15- 17-year-olds communicate “electronically” for 8-1/2 hours a day.
· Young adults communicate “electronically” for 7-1/2 hours a day.
There’s more, too, all of which should give us pause:
1. More than 33% of children 5 and younger have a TV in their bedrooms.
2. About 66% of older children have a TV in their bedrooms.
3. More than 50% of school-aged children have a video game console and a handheld video game player.
4. More than 50% of secondary students have their own cell phone and iPod.
5. About 50% of high schoolers have a computer in their bedroom.
Contrast all that with a ChildWise survey of 1,800 children, 5 to 18, that found kids spend only about 30 minutes a day reading.
And if you think that Internet access helps with schoolwork, think again. ChildWise also found that of those surveyed, only 9% had looked up school-related information the last time they’d been online.
That means we parents need to be more vigilant, monitoring our children’s use of electronic media and TV viewing. Studies abound suggesting that our wired and wireless worlds can have very not-so-good effects.
For instance, a Duke University study found that North Carolina middle schoolers’ test scores dropped after receiving a home computer—and that they “get the most educational value from home computers when parents are there to make sure the students aren’t goofing off.”
Consider, too, a recent Canadian study of 1,134 children’s TV viewing habits at 29 and 53 months, and then their academic and physical development by age ten. Their findings are alarming: for every hour beyond one hour a day, there was a 6% drop in math success, a 7% drop in classroom engagement, and a 10% increase in being victimized at school.
· Make schoolwork your child’s #1 priority.
· Put books first, not computing, texting, chatting, and so on.
· Encourage outdoor activity whenever possible, including after-school team sports and Little Leagues.
· Set up the computer in a high-traffic area of your home where you can monitor your child’s online behavior.
· Limit cell phone use and insist that it be left on the kitchen counter at bedtime.
· Set a text messaging limit on your child’s cell phone.
· Save video games for the weekends–and for only short periods of time. Be wary, too; many video games contain violent content.
After all, time is the most important thing we can spend. Each of us gets 368 hours a week—no more, no less. Don’t squander it all–and make sure your child doesn’t either.