Take Back Your Family Time

Daily lives for children have changed drastically over the past generation. Children used to have lots of free time. They were often outside playing. However, two national studies completed less than 20 years apart show some amazing statistics regarding children’s lives today:

  • Children age 3 to 12 have 12 hours less unstructured play time per week.
  • The time children spend “on the sideline” watching siblings play sports has doubled.
  • Children spend 50 percent more time studying even though there is no evidence that homework for children younger than 13 contributes to learning.
  • Religious participation for children has declined by 40 percent.
  • Time spent just talking as a family has “fallen off the radar” — the average family has zero!
  • Children also spend more time watching TV but the amount of time watching TV as a family has declined by 25 percent. This may be because 28 percent of preschoolers and two-thirds of teenagers have a TV in their bedrooms.

We live in a fast-paced world. We have a “speed-up” society of FedEx, faxes, email and Instagram. Our culture has become one of commitment to individual activities instead of family activities. Childhood used to revolve around the family while the family now revolves around children’s individual activities. Both parents and children’s schedules are so busy that neither has time for family meals together. However, studies have shown how important it is to have family meals together. Having four or more dinners together as a family per week is the greatest indicator of:

  • academic success;
  • healthy psychological adjustment of teenagers; and a
  • decrease in alcohol and drug use, early sexual activity and suicide

Interested in more information? Check your Winter Community Education Brochure or our calendar. Andrew Larson, Marriage and Family Therapist at NorthStar Counseling Center will engage parents of children all ages to “Take Back Your Family Time” on Jan. 19.

Information for this article was obtained from Take Back Your Family Time presented by Dr. Bill Doherty, director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota.


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