More par­ents set­ting lim­its on TV, read­ing more with chil­dren

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Ch­eryl Wet­zstein

Amer ican par­ents are more likely to set rules about television view­ing for their chil­dren than they were a decade ago, a new fed­eral re­port says.

In ad­di­tion, more par­ents are read­ing to their young chil­dren and en­cour­ag­ing their older chil­dren to take lessons in mu­sic, dance, lan­guage, com­put­ers or re­li­gion, the Cen­sus Bureau said in its new re­port, “A Child’s Day: 2004.”

“It seems that par­ents are more in­volved with their kids than they were 10 years ago,” bureau an­a­lyst Jane Dye said Oct. 31.

The Cen­sus Bureau is­sued its first “snap­shot” on chil­dren’s ex­pe­ri­ences while grow­ing up with its 2001 re­port, “A Child’s Day: Home, School and Play.” That re­port used data col­lected in 1994.

From 1994 to 2004, the big­gest change in chil­dren’s fam­ily life was with television rules, Ms. Dye said.

In 1994, for in­stance, only 54 per­cent of fam­i­lies with preschool­ers

set rules on what pro­grams can be watched, for how long and when. By 2004, the num­ber of fam­i­lies with TV rules jumped to 68 per­cent.

Par­ents were more re­stric­tive with their older chil­dren, too, with 71 per­cent set­ting TV rules for el­e­men­tary-school-age chil­dren and 47 per­cent set­ting TV rules for teens.

Tim Win­ter, pres­i­dent of the Par­ents Television Coun­cil, sees sev­eral rea­sons why more par­ents would mon­i­tor TV view­ing more closely.

Par­ents have a height­ened aware­ness that TV di­verts chil­dren from play­ing and other phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, he said. They also are be­com­ing more aware of what’s be­ing shown on TV, he said, adding that there’s an “out­pour­ing of com­plaints” about graphic vi­o­lence, pro­fan­ity and sex­ual sit­u­a­tions.

In ad­di­tion, he said, par­ents are un­happy that television is air­ing sala­cious ma­te­rial, such as graphic pro­mo­tions for adult shows, ear­lier in the day when chil­dren will see them, and “mak­ing more overt mar­ket­ing at­tempts” to young chil­dren.

The new cen­sus re­port found that more par­ents were read­ing to their young chil­dren.

For in­stance, in 1994, 48 per­cent of chil­dren ages 1 and 2 were read to at least seven times a week; in 2004, this num­ber jumped to 53 per­cent.

The per­cent of preschool­ers, aged 3 to 5, read to of­ten also rose, from 47 per­cent to 51 per­cent, the new re­port said.

A third sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment was the num­ber of chil- dren en­gaged in ex­tracur­ric­u­lar lessons, Ms. Dye said.

In 1994, about 24 per­cent of chil­dren aged 6 to 11 were en­rolled in lessons out­side of school, such as dance, mu­sic, lan­guage, com­put­ers or reli- gious in­struc­tion. In 2004, the num­ber rose to 33 per­cent.

The por tion of teens with lessons also in­creased, from 19 per­cent in 1994 to 29 per­cent in 2004.

Spor ts ac­tiv­i­ties are more pop­u­lar than lessons, with roughly 40 per­cent of chil­dren par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports. How­ever, from 1994 to 2004, sports par­tic­i­pa­tion didn’t change for 6- to 11-year-olds and it went down a lit­tle for teens, said Ms. Dye.

Cen­sus data showed that the num­ber of chil­dren in the U.S. grew from 68.2 mil­lion in 1994 to 73.1 mil­lion in 2004. Fig­ures also showed that:

The num­ber of chil­dren liv­ing with mar­ried par­ents was fairly stable — 50.9 mil­lion in 1994 and 51.1 mil­lion in 2004.

The num­ber of chil­dren liv­ing in the wealth­i­est fam­i­lies — in­comes of 200 per­cent or higher than the poverty line — grew from 37.8 mil­lion in 1994 to 42.3 mil­lion in 2004.

The num­ber of chil­dren liv­ing be­low the poverty line fell from 14 mil­lion in 1994 to 12.9 mil­lion in 2004.

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