"How blessed is he who considers the helpless..." Psalm 41:1

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't let the media fool you into more media

More and more people seem to be asking about what cartoons or movies Isaac is into. It's funny because he doesn't watch them and even if I turn them on he pays little to no attention. I wouldn't even mention this, but I think that it's worth a second look, or at the very least, some dialogue.

My personal opinion isn't hard to see in the matter. I would prefer Isaac to interact and play, rather than watch a cartoon or even an educational DVD. Why? Because our time together is precious. I don't count and teach him a ton of games or songs or anything. Call me crazy. I let him decide what he wants to play with and I encourage it. I DO talk to him all the time, and we speak a little bit of four different languages.

Now, all that being said, some of these baby einstein and creative programs are well done. My belief is that there will be plenty of time for media and television. Yes, yes I know that it would make my life MUCH easier to put him in front of the tv for a bit to get things done, but even if it takes longer, I love cleaning while Isaac tries to push around the swiffer (that's his new thing). Even when mama has sports on we don't just sit and watch them, he gets excited that he knows what it is and gets out a ball or bat and shows me his skills!

Really in a month or two... or a year or two, I may decide to upload little kid apps to my iPhone. Parenting is a process and another learning/compromising experience in life. But don't judge me for not educating my son via media because I have no problem with your tech savvy kiddo. Not that many people are too concerned with whether their child can play with a wheel and a stick with the other children in Haiti without whining for their PS3. That's just me.

Food for thought below... This applies to adults as well btw ;)

Excerpt taken from One of the Worst Parenting Mistakes You Can Make. British psychologist Aric Sigman writes in his 2008 paper titled, DOES NOT COMPUTE, Screen Technology in Early Years Education:

"… [T]he scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching specially developed baby DVDs and videos such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby, children under 16 months understood an average of six to eight fewer words than children who did not watch them.

One of the authors stated," The evidence is mounting that they are of no value and may in fact be harmful.

Given what we now know, I believe the onus is on the manufacturers to prove their claims that watching these programs can positively impact children's cognitive development. The bottom line is the more a child watches baby DVDs and videos the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter.

Keeping a TV in your child's bedroom is not a wise parenting decision, based on the evidence available.

A growing body of research shows strong links between a TV in the bedroom and numerous health and educational problems.

Children with TVs in their bedroom:

  • Score lower on school tests
  • Are more likely to have sleep problems
  • Are more likely to be overweight
  • May have an increased risk of smoking
  • Tend to consume more unhealthy foods

Clearly, the vast majority of kids and teens are in dire need of more exercise. However, based on the findings reported in the journal Pediatrics this month, exercising more may not be enough to compensate for the detrimental impact of TV and computer use.

The other side of the equation is shutting off your TV and computer more often...

As reported by Live Science:

"The study found that regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or whether a child had hit puberty, more than two hours a day in front of a TV or computer was associated with more emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Most importantly, the connection between screen time and psychological problems held regardless of how much overall physical activity the kids engaged in."

What that means is that it's not a sedentary lifestyle that poses the greatest risk to your child's mental health, but rather the activities your child engages in while being sedentary.

Other sedentary activities, such as reading or doing homework, had no detrimental impact on the children's mental health.

Another interesting fact was that the total amount of time spent on sedentary activities in general also did not have a negative impact on mental health – only the amount of time spent watching TV or in front of the computer impacted their psychology and behavior.