Currently, a conversation about screen time is occurring on my area listserv. It’s interesting to read various points of view. Some people feel that various apps designed to limit screen time and other digital activities are the way to go. Others point to need to be hands-on about contracts, agreements, and digital rules of the road. Almost everyone seems to be frustrated about defining the line between schoolwork and recreational screen times. Twenty-first Century digital parenting never lacks for challenges!
How do you count screen time? Screens are so much a part of our lives, and in just a few moments we can check texts, read the newspaper, and map out a bike route. Our kids see this.
It’s been fascinating to watch my grandson gradually become interested in light and then screens over these past four years. Early on he’d glance at any area that was lit up — a window, a lamp, a toy — and eventually I’d see him study, with rapt concentration, a lit up screen or unusual light anywhere in the vicinity. When he was a bit over two, his parents got him a fake toy screen — not at all interesting — but real screens, the type we use in almost every part of our lives, grabbed his attention, and fairly soon he wanted to do things with those devices.
Now four, he thinks screens are a big deal. He’d love to play games, watch TV, or just get mom or dad’s iPad or mobile phone to play a game. However, although he lives in a home with multiple screens, his time is limited, and digital devices are rarely used as a baby sitter or diversion. Besides, he has books, lots of books.
Are print books better for young learners and especially toddlers? Ask almost anyone in early child development and they will likely say yes, print books are so much better in so many ways. Many educational technology specialists — people like me who love learning with technology — will say the same thing. You can also read this New York Times article by pediatrician, Perri Klass.
Dr. Klass writes about a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and published at the journal Pediatrics. They conducted their research with 37 parent-child pairs who read together in three formats — print, electronic, and electronic with extra bells and whistles such as sound effects. Readers were videotaped. Toddlers and parents verbalized but interacted and collaborated less with electronic books. Then the researchers studied the recordings and coded the verbalizations and behavior or the parents and children. Continue reading “Print Books: Better Than Digital for Toddlers!”→
Don’t babies need to be looking around and figuring out things about all the people and things around them? You know, mommy, daddy, toy, cat, dog, book, noise, quiet. I watched my daughter observing and responding to the differences in colors, light, contrasts, and people — real people — practically from the day she was born. Babies may not be able to talk or even move for a long time after birth, but they can watch real life — and they work hard and learn a lot while they do all of that looking.
Seriously, do parents want a baby to stop figuring out and organizing the real world just to look at a screen — even for a short time?
Downstairs in my basement is an old-fashioned and wonderful Fisher-Price plastic barn and silo filled with people and animals. Two generations of babies and toddlers loved those toys, and now they’re waiting down there in a corner somewhere for the next child. The silo provided hours of interest for our daughter. Once she could sit up she started watching this bright red object. Inside were safe plastic animal toys for when she was learning to grab — but mostly she would knock the silo over or bang on it.
In light of the extraordinary negative media messages about body image in children’s lives, ensuring the strength and confidence of preadolescents and teens is a continuing challenge for parents and teachers. So much of the advertising markets thinness, popularity, sexuality, and one type of attractiveness, so it can be difficult for adults to counteract the effect of the of this pressure on a child.
Sometimes the entire ethos of a company emphasizes values that we do not want children in our care to adopt.
A distressing article over at the Huffington Post, A Message to Abercrombie’s CEO from a Former Fat Girlby Sara Taney Humphreys, highlights how one company has made exclusion, intentionally or otherwise, a part of its mission. Humphreys’ article isn’t about something that happened recently, but rather a quote from a 2006 Salon article about the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. While the article is more than six years old, the comments are disturbing, especially given the number of children who like to shop at Abercrombie and the many others who struggle with body image. Below is a quote from the Salon article.
As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
You can also listen to thisABC Chicago television story (after an airlines advertisement), including interviews with teenagers — many of whom can fit into the Abercrombie clothes but choose not to buy them. The teens are demonstrating at one of the stores in Chicago.
We are all still reeling from the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
For parents of digital kids, who with their children take all-the-time media access for granted, the greatest challenge is to figure out how to moderate what their youngsters see and hear in the days immediately following an event. It’s especially difficult because adults often want to be updated continuously by media resources.
Here’s a Boston Globe article with suggestions about how parents can help children feel safer and more secure after frightening events. Written by pediatrician Claire McCarthy for her MD Mama column, the piece also offers links to additional resources on parenting after scary, media-saturated events. Dr. McCarthy reminds parents that they can get their updates from smartphones and laptops rather than keeping a radio or television turned on.
“…as parents, we don’t get the luxury of processing and dealing separately from our children.”
I love my iPhone and iPad, and I cannot do many things without them. For children under 13, however, use time should be carefully monitored by each family. Kids today are playing independently with powerful devices, and they — the devices and the children — are not intended to interact in isolation and for long periods without adult supervision.
Just today I asked a group of device-savvy fifth graders, most around age 10, if they know anything about SnapChat, the app that deletes pictures in one to ten seconds (leaving plenty of time for a recipient with poor judgment to take a screenshot and save the photo). Just about every hand went up. During a lesson a few months ago I asked them how many of them know how to make a screenshot — and they can all do it in a lot less than ten seconds. Read my SnapChat review here.