You are on the couch reading. Your daughter, four, is sitting next to you fiddling with your iPad. She’s been on your iPad for twenty minutes. You decide she’s had enough and ask her to put it down. She refuses, so, like all parents, you bribe her: “Hand over the iPad and I’ll let you watch My Little Ponies.” She readily agrees and hands over the goods. You start her show and flop back onto the couch. In the end, your daughter will have received fifty minutes of media, unless this is a repeat episode, and then who knows how much media your daughter might have today.
Is this okay? Are you honest with yourself about how many hours either you or your children sit behind a glowing screen each day? Do you feel guilty about your media intake? Should you? These are the questions that Doctors Stewart M. Hoover, Lynn Schofield Clark, and Diane F. Alters raise in their book, Media, Home, and Family. Their assertion, at its core, is that parents believe media affects their family life and that management of their family’s media intake directly affects their parental confidence. In other words, parents worry about media and how it affects both their children and their family.
The minds behind Media, Home, and Family assert that the stories we tell ourselves in regards to our media intake contribute to our collective familial identity, which is an ongoing and fluid negotiation. Are you the family that doesn’t own a T.V. and proudly condescends to those who do, while secretly streaming Netflix on your iPhone? If so, then why do you tout your T.V.-less house? What does that say about you and your values? Is there import, for your family, in espousing those values even if you don’t always adhere to them?