Just ask any parent, and you will probably hear that middle childhood is a period of rapid development, emotionally, socially and physically. Positioned between early childhood and adolescence, the age from 6-12 is a time when experiences are broadened and interactions increase. It is also a time when children begin to discover their place in the world and compare themselves to others. This newfound awareness makes their exposure to media messaging particularly concerning. In fact, who your child is becoming during this very formative time can be directly linked to what they view, whether it is through movies, television, advertisements, or video gaming.
Recently, the Parents Television Council, in conjunction with other sponsors, compiled statistics that graphically illustrate the negative effects of today’s media and marketing messages, especially on girls. Though adults understand that images are often altered from their natural state, developmentally, children under the age of thirteen cannot discern the difference. With that in mind, consider these statements from the Fact Sheet at 4everygirl.com:
“The media consistently pushes an unnatural body type, making it difficult to accept natural beauty.”
“Young girls are being stylized in the media to look and act like adults.”
“Girls are surrounded by images of female beauty that are unrealistic and unattainable.”
And…“42% of elementary school children between 1st and 3rd grades want to be thinner.”
Additionally, in 2014, GameByte Kids reported that children ages 6-12 in the US contributed over $2 Billion in revenue just to the video gaming industry. Obviously, not all this content is wholesome, and the combined messaging from video games, television shows and movies can detrimentally impact this age group, manifesting in behaviors such as aggression, hostility, a lack of self-control and decreased academic performance.
Though there are some benefits to digital media usage, such as learning computer skills and accessing a wider range of knowledge, the potential risks for this age group are extremely important to consider. So parents, watch for a change in behavior and monitor the messages and content available to your children. Though you can’t completely isolate them, you can certainly minimize their exposure. And as their awareness increases, remember to talk about how to make good media choices while also modeling good media habits. If you need a helpful resource in this area, I highly recommend The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch.
Franklin Santagate is the Vice President of Pure Flix Global Strategic Alliances, which works with denominations, ministries, and organizations by finding common vision, assets, resources and influence. From that position, we create initiatives we can do together that we cannot do apart, reaching our mutual objectives and expanding the Kingdom of God. To discover more or to become a Pure Flix Global Strategic Alliance partner go to http://pureflixalliance.com/join/.
To contact Franklin for speaking opportunities at churches and special events, email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.