Wake-up call for parents, the media and society as a whole
The first media barometer conducted on children and parents in Montenegro points to worrying data
PODGORICA, 12 November 2018 – On average, children aged 12–17 spend about eight hours a day in front of a screen – using a mobile phone for three and a half hours a day, watching TV for about two hours a day, spending about an hour and a half in front of a computer or laptop, slightly less than an hour a day playing video games and about twenty minutes a day in front of a tablet.
These are the findings of the first nationally representative survey of children aged 9–17 and their parents on the use of different media, which was implemented within the “Let’s Choose What We Watch” media literacy campaign by the Agency for Electronic Media of Montenegro and UNICEF.
According to Vladimir Raičević, Director of the market research agency Ipsos in Montenegro, which conducted this survey, “the fact that parents do not show any particular concern over the amount of time their children spend in front of a screen is especially worrying”.
Matija Sekulić, a young reporter within the media literacy campaign, addressed parents in Montenegro, suggesting that they ask themselves whether, by failing to restrict their children’s access to mobile phones, for example, they are depriving them of something else.
Are you depriving us of playing time and real, not virtual, socializing, and of the many experiences that are happening in this, the real world?
Matija’s colleague, young reporter Milica Vujošević, reflected on the worrying data from the survey showing that in the past year, most children and parents had not been to the theatre, a museum or to the cinema, and that more than 40 percent of parents had not read a single book in the past 12 months.
So instead of allowing us to spend these eight hours a day in front of a screen, I suggest that we all, as families, go to the theatre, the cinema, a museum or a library more often. We will certainly find content there which you know is beneficial for us.
The survey has also shown that children believe that they will most likely find media content that suits their needs, interests and age on the internet, as well as on foreign cable TV channels, which poses new challenges for domestic media production.
Half of the children want to participate in the media production of programmes for young people in Montenegro, and their parents support them in this idea. This is why Osama Khogali, the UNICEF Montenegro Representative, has called upon the Montenegrin media to give children and young people this opportunity.
The production of innovative media programmes with and for children will not only be beneficial for them, but will also make the local media a new brand for Montenegrin families.
Khogali announced that in early 2019, in cooperation with the Agency for Electronic Media, high-quality international training will be provided to the Montenegrin media on how to make quality media programmes with young people.
Abaz Beli Džafić, Director of the Agency for Electronic Media, stresses that the results of the survey are extremely important for defining future activities of the Agency for Electronic Media aimed at the development of media literacy in Montenegro.
“These results must be the foundation for the further activities of the Agency for Electronic Media, as well as of many other institutions in the field of culture and education,” Džafić said.
Antonije Pušić, aka Rambo Amadeus, UNICEF Montenegro’s National Goodwill Ambassador, believes that the key reason why children spend so much time on the internet is because it is free-of-charge.
This is why the state needs to create the conditions for sports, recreation and culture and art clubs to be free-of-charge for children. A membership fee of €10 or €20 a month is too much for some parents. It is cheaper for them to let their kid stare at a screen all day long. My message is: life is offline, and the simulation of life is online – live your life, do not simulate it.
The survey on the use of media was conducted on a nationally representative sample of 1,050 parents and 655 children aged 9‒17 via a questionnaire completed in households across Montenegro in August 2018.