Children and Time

by Charles Cherry

I just read (partially) a report from the University of Michigan about how children spend their time. Here is breakdown of the findings:

Changing Times of American Youth: 1981-2003

AGE 6-17, 2002-03 and 1981/82
(Hours:Minutes per Week)

  2002/03 1981/82
Market Work 0:53 2:06
Household Work 5:43 3:43
Personal Care 8:13 5:56
Eating 7:06 8:28
Sleep, naps 68:12 62:38
School 32:27 26:21
Studying 3:58 2:38
Church 1:34 2:05
Visiting, Socializing 4:47 2:12
Sports 2:59 4:04
Outdoor Activities 0:50 1:40
Hobbies 0:12 0:27
Art Activities 0:48 0:40
Television 14:36 15:44
Other Passive Leisure 2:46 0:39
Playing 8:05 7:20
Reading 1:17 1:09
Being Read To 0:05 0:03
Computer Activities 2:45 0:00
Missing Data 0:45 20:06
TOTAL 168:00 168:00

What really stands out to me are the hours for church vs. the hours for school, television and computer activities. The average time spent in church is about an hour and a half. The amount of time spent in school, in front of the TV, and in front of the computer screen (which I count as entertainment or amusement time) adds up to almost 50 hours per week.

Since George Barna and others have pretty much established that Christians are really not much different from non-Christians (culturally speaking), these numbers should concern all Christians – not just parents and educators.

How in the world do Christians think we are going to influence and train the next generation to be spiritually mature Christ-followers with numbers like this? Thirty to forty-five minutes of spiritual instruction a week (which is about all a child will really get in Sunday School), compared to fifty hours of secular, humanistic, narcissistic, materialistic indoctrination per week. Who do you think is going to win the battle for the hearts and minds of our children? Who has already won the battle for several previous generations?

What I want to know is, Why has the Church abandoned our children to the secularists, and let them have their way with them for fifty hours per week, nine months per year, for the twelve or thirteen most formative years of their lives?