Are you and your family addicted to media? - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Are you and your family addicted to media?

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Mary Jo Rapini Mary Jo Rapini
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The University of Maryland has researched the dependency on different forms of mass media with college age students to find that media is the most common addiction in the United States. Their study subjects were college age, and they asked their subjects to disconnect for 24 hours from using any type of media. They also asked them to record their thoughts as they disconnected from internet, television, MP3 players and other electronics. Some of the participants dropped out feeling too depressed or disconnected, but the entire group reported feeling more anxious, isolated and as though they were disconnected to an uncomfortable degree. Is this something we should worry about if we feel as though our well being is relying on media to make us feel socially connected? Yes, I think it is something we should be aware of, especially if social media is replacing actual friendships and face-to-face contact.

Families use to enjoy family dinners, but recently more and more families going out to dinner are talking less and less to one another and yet texting more, watching YouTubes more and playing video games more. Family time is no longer getting together to play games together or converse with one another face-to-face. They’re more likely to get together and be looking at their individual electronic devices. How do we restore family or friendship face-to-face meals as well as social get-togethers without our smart phones, MP3s or Internet?

1. As much as possible have family meals during the week. These don’t have to be done at home. However, they should include your whole family.

2. When you go out with your friends make a policy at to avoid the phones when the food is served and silence it so you won’t be distracted.

3. In a family have a plate or a container where all electronics are dropped prior to dinner. Make sure you silence them as the noise of a text or email incites the mind and distracts from family.

4. Conversation at the dinner table should be kept at a level where everyone can hear one another and you can also enjoy the food.

5. Parents are models for their children, so if they deem a phone call to be more important than dinner with their family, their kids will do the same. Making sure your kids understand that electronics cannot replace face-to-face interaction will help them create healthy boundaries in the future.

The benefits of media are many, but depending on media for your social and interpersonal needs to be met can leave you feeling isolated, superficial and alone. To have deep meaningful relationships requires nurturing and attention. Keeping strong boundaries between media use and family gatherings can help you stay connected to the people who mean the most to you and enjoy your shows, videos and tweets.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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