“’Keeping busy’ is the remedy for all the ills in America. It’s also the means by which the creative impulse is destroyed.” – Joyce Carol Oates
Keeping busy today is too easy, too tempting, when a phone has days of pastime capability. And it is just as easy to let those pastimes entertain our children. We are not being neglectful, but productive, when we turn on a PBS Kids show so that we can do the laundry without the 2-year-old continuously shutting the dryer door while we are loading it. Mealtime is peaceful when the television is on—in fact, they eat more, which helps them to grow.
We are not bad parents, but do we realize the effects of media overload on our kids? Do we know what constitutes media overload?
According to Techaddition, children consume over three hours of media every day. On average, television-watching begins when a child is 9 months old, and 65 percent of children under 8 watch it daily (“Media Statistics-Children’s use of TV, Internet and Video Games”).
The American Academy of Pediatrics, through studies on the topic of children and media usage, have determined that technology overuse contributes largely to child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder and psychosis. When a brain is developing, between birth and age 18, and overexposed to television, side effects such as cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and temper tantrums occur.
As if that weren’t enough, statistics state that “60 percent of parents do not supervise their child’s technology usage, and 75 percent of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms.” This is linked to sleep deprivation found in 75 percent of children aged 9 and 10 years. These children’s grades are negatively impacted.
What are you saying?
The hard truth is that infants under 3-years-old should not have any exposure
to technology—television, phones, tablets. From age 3 to 5, one hour
each day is acceptable, and two hours in a day is appropriate between
ages 6 and 18 (says “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be
Banned for Children Under the Age of 12” from Huffington Post). Anything
more can lead to mental, social, emotional and developmental effects.
What do I do about it?
It’s January—the perfect time to make resolutions. This year, make the resolution
to limit your children’s media exposure. Realistically, this will be a
difficult resolution to keep from the beginning, but it will be easier with a
plan. Make a plan at the beginning of each week, buy new and exciting
activities, sign the kids up for extra-curricular activities; do what it takes to
prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. Quiet time in their rooms
can be a good, calming outlet for mommies and kiddos, alike. Many activities
can give you much-needed productivity and alone time:
Ideas for Mommy Alone Time:
- Ages 0-1: quiet playtime with safe, independent toys (activity mats and musical toys)
- Ages 2-3: repetitive educational activity (magnet activities, blocks, drawing/coloring, cars/dolls)
- Ages 4-5: outside play time, crafts, chores
- Ages 6-8: organized extra-curricular teams, reading time, chores
Make the most of the device time your family spends with these free iPad applications:
- Sight Words for Reading HD
- Alphabet Projector
- Fill the Cup
- ABS Magic Phonics
- PBS Kids
- Motion Math Zoom
- Agnitus Games for Learning
When it gets hard, when you slip and give your 3-year-old five hours of tablet time, give yourself some grace. Remember the rewards you are providing: emotional health, optimal mental development and behavioral stability. You are the type of parent who can eat meals around the table and the type of parent who can boast that you are creative enough to have alternative outlets for your kids’ day.