My wife and I recently welcomed the arrival of our first two grandchildren. No, they
weren’t twins. In early 2012, our son and his wife had a little girl. Then, later in the year, our daughter and her husband also had a little girl.
As a parent or grandparent, you are already aware of the many forces at work, intent on attempting to shape the thoughts and opinions of the little ones in your family. What you may not know is that a clock is ticking, as you guide them to independence and maturity.
For decades, psychologists have reported about the critical stages of development in children. As the research progressed, it became clear that formation of personality and the foundations for learning occurred much earlier than had originally been thought.
The debate has raged for decades, as it relates to how our children develop, and whether heredity or environment has the greatest impact on the outcome. But stop and think about where your children and grandchildren are getting the information from which to form their life’s choices and opinions. Consider the following.
80% of children 6 and under, read or are read to in an average day.
But…children spend an average of only 49 minutes with books in that same
This is compared with 2 hours and 22 minutes or more in front of a television or
computer screen. Smart phones are eating into the timeline even more.
In addition, a recent survey found that 90% of parents said their children under age 2 watch at least some form of electronic media. And the average amount of TV watched by children 2 and under was 1-2 hours a day.
Then the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made a “screen-free” recommendation for all children under age 2. The researchers wanted to study the benefits or harm in educational TV viewing for the same age group. This is some of what they found:
Because educational television programs usually use content and context that doesn’t make sense yet to children under 2, there is little, if any, educational value.
Unstructured play proved to be far better than electronic media for encouraging brain development. Through unstructured play children learn creativity, problem solving, reasoning, and motor skills. Unstructured play also encouraged independence by teaching children to entertain themselves.
Little children learned best when they interacted with people and not a TV screen.
Even when parents watch TV and videos with their children, to help them understand and learn, the children do much better from live interaction and instruction.
A television or radio, in the background, can also do damage to a child’s development by distracting the parent and decreasing interaction with their children. Hearing these distracting sounds in the background can also have a negative effect on a child during his unstructured play time.
Television viewing around bedtime is especially negative because it causes difficulties in sleeping and sleep schedules. This affects a child’s mood, behavior, and learning.
Many children with increased exposure to media have delayed language development after they start school.
One of the primary researchers, Dr. Brown, gave the following recommendation to parents: "In today's 'achievement culture,' the best thing you can do for your young child is to give her a chance to have unstructured play -- both with you and independently. Children need this in order to figure out how the world works."
Because you’re concerned about what your children or grandchildren are learning, and their literacy success, pay attention to the warnings from AAP and consider reducing or completely eliminating heavy media use for children under 2. Instead, begin reading together with your child to better develop literacy and to ensure their success in education and life.
To help in this battle, an online children’s magazine has been developed where you can find new short stories to read to your children during the day or at bedtime. Each month, I also have two, new, original short stories in this magazine. You can find more information at http://www.knowonder.com It’s free.
Remember, parents and grandparents stand on the front lines when it comes to the battle for our children. Reading habits you instill early will benefit them for a lifetime.
Max Elliot Anderson
Books for Boys Blog http://booksandboys.blogspot.com