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.
I received this description about an unfortunate experience of a family traveling by commercial airline from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood(CCFC), a not-for-profit children’s policy group that addresses and seeks to stop kids’ exposure to for-profit and exploitative commercial and media images.
The parents in the story below were attempting to prevent their children from seeing violent images in the movie, Alex Cross, playing on the movie monitors — a perfectly sensible thing for parents of today’s digital kids to do. Common Sense Media offers thisreview of Alex Cross.
Seems like pretty poor customer service training and extreme lack of judgement on the part of the airline crew, if this type of request represents a security breach. The family had to waste time going through the ordeal of interrogation by law enforcement authorities in Chicago — authorities who, in turn, wasted their time questioning parents who were merely trying to protect their children from exposure to violent images. This took valuable time away from the real work of these law enforcement professionals — protecting us from violent criminals, but maybe the airline crew forgot this.
The April 30-May 6, 2012 week-long activity, which for years was a turn-off-the-TV event, aims to encourage children and their families (and yes, adults with their digital devices), to be less dependent on activities in front of screens, encouraging all of us to consider other types of activities such as reading, playing outside, board games and exercise.
The point of Screen-Free Week is not to forget about digital activities, stop doing homework, and ignore the work that needs to be accomplished each day. Rather it’s a time to think carefully about the digital screen logjam in our lives and consider just how much time we are spending in front of TV, computers, iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, and other gadgets — and whether some of that time is better used for other things.
Just about everyone needs to come up with strategies to balance screen time activities with the rest of our lives, perhaps adding a bit more variation and creativity to our daily endeavors. But the week can also be a time to think about the quality of life. We should be asking ourselves, “How can we use our devices to learn and collaborate more, and are there ways they might help us grown into more productive citizens?”