First Lady Michelle Obama sets a very high parenting bar with her strict rules for Sash and Malia’s screen time. "In my household, you know, we try to establish a set of guidelines and rules that make sense - no computers, phones, television during the week," the first lady said Wednesday. Most American youth have far more daily access to technology and media use. A recent Kaiser Foundation study found that children ages 8 – 18 years old devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day to “entertainment media.” Even with the potential 48 weekend hours available to the Obama girls, they can never come close to the weekly average of over 53 total hours.
What’s lovely about Mrs. Obama’s message is that she recognizes the parental role in setting rules and limits on technology. She also discussed the potential troubles found within social networking for those who lack maturity or guidance on dealing with gossip or online meanness. And she celebrates the role of schools as a nexus for educating the whole family about the Internet and technology in general. I hope to see Mrs. Obama continue promoting the issues of online safety and digital literacy education for the whole nation, not just our children and not just via schools.
And before any of us even conceive of feeling sorry for the Obama girls or think they might get left out of some school water cooler talk because they aren’t online, remember the all access pass to the world at large they have. Instead of watching “Glee” on Fox TV, they had the cast performing at the White House. Instead of dreaming about Justin Bieber from watching his YouTube videos, Sasha and Malia hosted their own Bieber concert. I’m sure their classmates in school would willingly give up all their weekly screen time for some of that White House razzle dazzle.