Sunday, December 23, 2007

no time for TV

Oh well, this is what is happening in my home. We came back from a visit to friends and I was just thinking about a nice video of Caillou which present Christmas in every country of the world. But my kids started to play, play, play. They were inventing a big story and ones again, no time for TV.

In fact, beside videos I am getting from the library to illustrate some lessons, like the one about volcano or the one about dinosaur, we rarely have time for TV or entertainment videos. And I am never going to tell them “stop playing and come watch some TV”
It makes senses, isn’t it?

Monday, October 29, 2007

What happen to the parents who say:No daily TV in the classroom?

Oh well, hard to believe, but sadly true: the well mannered and focus and nice student who is getting along well with everyone including the teacher got kick out of the class!

Why? Because the Kindergarten teacher hate the mom!

Why? Because the mom asked her to not show TV to the children on a daily basis!


Oh yes, very chocking! How that can be possible that a teacher careless of the happiness of the children? Poor parents, they did not know what to do when they learned how much the teacher hated the mom, so they trusted the principal of the school who proposed to change the student of class. They wanted to find a peaceful solution for all, and most of all they did not have the experience.

And it is getting worse! The nice little student became extremely unhappy in his new class, this new class which combines Kindergarten and first grade was taking away from him not only a familiar environment that he loves, his friend, his teacher, his sister, but was also taking away all the fun of kindergarten! No more hands on activities for him, no more choice time where he was so happy to play with all his friends, no more social studies, no more center activities! All the fun went away. And a happy little dude that everyone loves became a very unhappy child trying to keep his smile to give the change to all those adults surrounding him.

And then, when the parents went back to the principal telling him how miserable their son was and how much this change was a mistake, how much this class was wrong for him, this one was cold and rude and just said: I will not change him!

Letting their son becoming more unhappy everyday was not an option, so those nice parents, who love their children enough to care about their happiness, left that school that was obviously led by a principal who does not care at all of the wellbeing of the children….

Monday, October 08, 2007

Television harms our children and families in many ways.

Parents, you will love this article which summarizes many researches:

Breaking Out of the Box. Turn Off TV. Turn on Life. By Ann Vorisek White Web Exclusive

The average American child watches four hours of television every day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.1

Videotapes and video games add to the amount of time children spend staring at a screen. How does all this viewing affect us?

Television harms our children and families in many ways. Before TV, meals were a time for families to reflect upon the day and linger in peace or lively discussion over home-cooked meals. Today, most American families regularly watch television during dinner.2

Mealtimes are hurried, with children and adults eating in silence, eyes glued to the screen, or gobbling down their food in order to return to the family room to resume their interrupted television watching.

Childhood illnesses and injuries leading to bed rest used to be special times for bonding and family rituals. We can recall books that were read to us or quiet games that we played while recovering from chicken pox or a broken leg. Today, sick children spend their days watching videos and television.

In the past, holiday gatherings found children playing outdoors and adults gathered in lively discussions. Today, children are more apt to gather around the television or computer than to take up a game of kick-the-can or capture-the-flag. In fact, some family gatherings seem to revolve around TV, with Thanksgiving dinners prepared to suit the timing of football games.

As a result of the many hours they spend in front of the TV, children are in effect being parented by network producers rather than by their own parents. Television teaches children that rude, irresponsible behavior is not only acceptable but also glamorous. Children learn about sex and violence apart from their consequences, emotional attachments, and responsibilities. They learn to act impulsively, without reflection or advice from elders. Qualities such as wisdom and processes like thinking through a problem are difficult to express on a television screen, especially when the medium depends on sensationalism and shock rather than character and insight.

US Surgeon General David Satcher stated in a 2000 report on youth violence that violent television programming and video games have become a public-health issue and that "repeated exposure to violent entertainment during early childhood causes more aggressive behavior throughout a child's life.3

The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that children who regularly watch violence on television are more fearful and distrustful of the world, less bothered by violence, and slower to intervene or call for help when they see fighting or destructive behavior.4

A Los Angeles Times story reported that 91 percent of children polled said they felt "upset" or "scared" by violence on television.5

A University of Pennsylvania study found that children's TV shows contain roughly 20 acts of violence each hour.6

After watching violent programs, the APA reports, children are more likely to act out aggressively, and children who are regularly exposed to violent programming show a greater tendency toward hitting, arguing, leaving tasks unfinished, and impatience.7

The first two years of life is when the greatest and most rapid development of the brain occurs. As all parents know, a child's mind is different from an adult's, and the differences go beyond children's innocent and often poetic perceptions of the world. While the adult brain has two distinct hemispheres, the infant brain is a single receptacle of sensory experience in which neither side has developed or overpowered the other. Until they learn language, children absorb experience using a kind of nonverbal "thinking," characterized later in the brain's development as a right hemispheric function. When language begins, each hemisphere seems to be equally developed. In its structural and biochemical sense, the brain doesn't reach its full maturation until about age 12.
By maturation, the left hemisphere typically develops as the dominant side, controlling the verbal and logical functions of the brain, while the right hemisphere controls spatial and visual functions. For many years, such development was thought to be genetically predetermined and unaffected by life experiences. Today, however, this belief has changed. Although the acquisition of language appears to be universal, we now recognize that the abilities required for expression and reasoning are not automatic. Watching television threatens the development of these abilities because it requires a suspension of active cognition.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not watch TV or videos, and that older children watch only one to two hours per day of nonviolent, educational TV. Young children watching TV are routinely described as transfixed, passive, and nonverbal. One of television's appeals for parents is that it serves as an immediate way to silence and sedate active toddlers. But such nonverbal absorption does more than simply relax and amuse preschoolers. Language spoken by actors on TV does not have the same effect as real-life language experiences. The Journal of Broadcasting reported that language skills among American children declined as TV viewing time increased.8

In real life, conversation is reciprocal and participatory; it allows time for reflection, questions, and encouragement. Television, however, is a one- way street, and you had better stay glued, ask no questions, and take no time for thought, because the next scene will appear in seconds and there is no rewind. As a result, children learn not to think but to remain passive and unresponsive to whatever stimulus appears before them. Television conditions them to absorb images without mental effort and to expect rapid change. Since young children's questions and imaginations are the cornerstone of their learning processes, remaining unresponsive hour after hour, day after day, year after year surely affects their intellectual, emotional, and moral development.

Fantasy play, a critical component of childhood, allows children to explore different situations with varying responses and outcomes. While books and storytelling nourish fantasy play, fantasy watching does not foster the same reaction. The US Department of Education reported that 81 percent of children ages two to seven watch TV unsupervised,9 which means that young children enter a world of fantasy without the guidance and oversight of an adult. Research by the Yale University Family Television and Consultation Center reveals that imagination decreases as TV watching increases.10

TV teaches children to be amused by its images instead of encouraging kids to create their own. It dulls the mind by the power of its fast-moving pictures, supplanting the mental activity necessary to follow in the mind's eye a book or a storyteller's tale. The Yale Center reports that complex language and grammar skills are directly linked to fantasy play, and that children who create fantasy play are more tolerant, peaceful, patient, and happy.

Many children become habituated to TV by their parents, who desire a break from their child's activity and attention. However, the short-term benefit of a quiet, mesmerized child may actually lead to a greater dependence on adult supervision by creating children who are less capable of amusing themselves. By supplanting their imaginations, creating fast-paced pictures, and transforming active minds into passive recipients, TV teaches mental lethargy.

For a child raised on hourly doses of TV, boredom is a common component of later childhood. In refusing to use TV during the preschool years, parents may save themselves from constantly having to create amusements for their children.

The best way to keep TV from becoming an issue with children, of course, is not to begin using it. If a TV is present in the home, it is vital to establish clear rules on its use and to maintain these rules. Never make TV a reward or a punishment; this only heightens its power. When starting the withdrawal from TV, explain why you are making these changes and that it is not a punishment. The first month will be the most difficult. Children may cry or plead, but you can remain firm if you keep in mind that you are freeing them from an addiction.

It is also imperative that you help your children learn how to fill the time that they formerly spent watching TV. Work with them to nurture interests, discover hobbies, and explore new possibilities. Begin a nightly read-aloud for the entire family. Take walks after breakfast or dinner. Share your hobbies-sewing, knitting, baking bread-with them. Learn to play instruments and make music as a family. Encourage children to help with work around the house and yard. Visit neighbors and relatives. Tell stories and pass on your family history. Build a birdhouse. Go bowling. Go sledding. Finger paint. Color. Practice yoga together. Involve your children in the daily activities of the house, and encourage yourself and your family to rekindle the flame of exploration and discovery, away from the draw of the flickering blue screen.

1. American Academy of Pediatrics, "Television and the Family" (June 1999),
2. D. A. Gentile and D. A. Walsh, Media Quotient: National Survey of Family Media Habits, Knowledge, and Attitudes (Washington, DC: National Institute on Media and the Family, 1999).
3. "NAPNAP Supports Surgeon General on TV/Video Stance," press release, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners, Cherry Hill, NJ, February 2, 2000.
4. American Psychological Association, "Violence on Television" (report),
5. "Living in Fear," Los Angeles Times , August 23, 1998 .
6. G. L. Gerbner, M. Morgan, and N. Signorielli , "Living with Television: The Dynamics of the Cultivation Process," in J. Bryant and D. Zillman, eds., Perspectives on Media Effects (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1986).
7. See Note 4.
8. Gary W. Selnow and Erwin P. Bettinghaus, "Television Exposure and Language Development," Journal of Broadcasting 26 (Winter 1982): 1.
9. US Department of Education, "Strong Families, Strong Schools : Building Community Partnerships for Learning" (report), 1994.
10. Dorothy Singer, J. Singer, and D. Zuckerman, Use TV to Your Child's Advantage: The Parent's Guide . Yale University Family Television Research and Consultation Center , 1998.
Baldwin, Rahima. You Are Your Child's First Teacher . Celestial Arts, 2000.
Bennett, Steve and Ruth. 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child . Bob Adams, 1991.
Healy, Jane M. Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds-For Better and Worse. Simon and Schuster, 1998.
The Killing Screens: Media and the Culture of Violence (video recording). Sut Jhally, executive producer and director. Media Education Foundation, 1994.
Liebert, Robert M. The Early Window: Effects of Television on Children and Youth. Pergamon Press, 1988.
Mander, Jerry. Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Morrow, 1978.
Minow, Newton . Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, TV, and the First Amendment. Hill and Wang, 1995.
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners (NAPNAP), 1101 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034, 856-667-1776,
National Institute on Media and the Family, 606 24th Avenue, Suite 606 , Minneapolis , MN 55454 , 888-672-5437,
Postman, Neil. The Disappearance of Childhoo d. Delacorte Press, 1982.
Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook . Penguin Books, 1985.
TV-Turnoff Network, 1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW 3A, Washington , DC 20009 , 202- 518-5556,
US Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Report , "Children, Violence, and the Media," 1999.
Wilkins, Joan Anderson. Breaking the TV Habit . Scribner, 1982.
Winn, Marie. The Plug-In Drug . Penguin Books, 1985.
For more information about television, see the following articles in past issues of Mothering : "Television and Film Entertainment," no. 50; and "Preventing TV Addiction: Ten Hints for Parents," no. 31.
Ann Vorisek White lives with her husband, Harry, and their two cats in the Berkshire Mountains of Connecticut . She has a master's degree in library science and is a children's librarian in Litchfield County .

This article was published in:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Childhood TV Viewing a Risk for Behavior Problems

Here is a new article just published, which is warning parents and educator about the risk of nurturing TV viewing habits. This article was published in numerous medical website like
For Immediate Release: October 1, 2007
Childhood TV Viewing a Risk for Behavior Problems
Timing of Media Exposure Plays a Vital Role in Outcomes
Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood canlead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to astudy of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The Hopkins researchers found that the impact of TV viewing on a child's behaviorand social skills varied by the age at which the viewing occurred.
More importantly, heavy television viewing that decreased over timewas not associated with behavior or social problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 watch no television while children age 2 and older are limited to no more than two hours of daily viewing. The study is published in the October2007 issue of Pediatrics. "A number of studies have demonstrated negative effects of heavy television viewing. However, timing of exposure is an important consideration as reducing viewing to acceptable levels can reduce the risk of behavioral and social problems," said Kamila Mistry, MPH,lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Bloomberg School's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health.
For the study, the research team analyzed data for 2,707 children collected from the Healthy Steps for Young Children national evaluation. Parents were surveyed about their child's television viewing habits and behavior at 2.5 and at 5.5 years of age. Sixteen percent of parents reported that their children watched two hours or more of television daily at 2.5 years of age (early exposure), while 15 percent reported that their children watched two hours or more of television daily at 5.5 years of age (concurrent exposure). One in five parents reported that their children watched two hours or more of television daily at both 2.5 years and at 5.5years of age (sustained exposure). Sustained exposure to television was associated with behavioral problems. However, early exposure that was subsequently reduced was not a risk for behavior problems. Concurrent viewing was associated with fewer social skills, while sustained and early viewing had less of an impact on social skill development. The study also found that having a television in the child's bedroom at 5.5 years of age was associated with behavioral problems and poor sleep. Forty-one percent of the children included in the study had a television in his or her bedroom."Children who reduced their viewing by 5.5 years of age were not at greater risk for behavior and social problems," said Cynthia Minkovitz, MD, MPP, senior author of the study and associate professor with the School's Department of Population, Family andReproductive Health. "It is vital for clinicians to emphasize the importance of reducing television viewing in early childhood among those children with early use.""Children's Television Exposure and Behavioral and Social Outcomes at 5.5 years: Does Timing of Exposure Matter?" was written by Kamila B.Mistry, MPH; Cynthia S. Minkovitz, MD, MPP; Donna M. Strobino, PhD;and Dina L. G. Borzekowski, EdD.Data collection for this research was supported by the Agency forHealthcare Research and Quality, the Commonwealth Fund.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

the use of television in the classroom

These days my main worry is the use of TV in the Kindergarten class of my children...
It is such a chock for me when my kids come home telling me “what was on TV today”
In their class, TV is used as a relaxing time… Well, is TV really relaxing?
Many researches prove that it is not…

Happily I am not the only parents concerned by the use of TV in the classroom. For their defense, the teacher show us how good the quality of the programs are, and this is true, they are showing good programs, so we can feel safe on the content.

Unhappily, the content is one side of the question, the HOW a program is screened is a major issue. Leaving a child “relax” in front of the television should not happen in school. This “attitude” is far from being educational, even with the best content ever.

On the other end, the children could learn to become active viewers! Dr. Faith Rogow explains that very well in her article “Don't turn Off the Lights: Tips for Classroom Use of ITV”

Here is a copy of the article:

There are lots of ways to watch television and our purpose for viewing has a significant impact on what we take away from the experience. Most TV viewing is for entertainment and relaxation, and that's fine--unless we want people to remember what they've seen. Television can be a powerful educational tool, but it we want our students to absorb specific content from what they see, we need to give them a model for viewing that is active and critical. For starters,
  • view from videotape rather than real-time broadcasts
  • don't be constrained by programs; only use the segments you need
  • don't use the television as a babysitter

In addition:

  • Think about what you are trying to accomplish. If you can achieve your goal without using video, you may want to reconsider your use of TV. However, video can help accomplish things you can't do any other way. TV does the following very well:
  • Spark interest in a new subject area. Imaginative and quick paced video can inspire your students to pursue a subject.
  • Demonstrate something you can't show any other way, such as a satellite's view of changing weather patterns, the inside of a human body, a math concept that involves motion of 3-D geometry, the sounds and sights of a rainforest, the sound of various accents in a foreign language, a chemistry experiment that is too dangerous or too expensive to do in the classroom, etc.
  • Enrich content by demonstrating new applications or insights.
  • Practice a skill such as note taking, problem solving, predicting, listening, etc.
  • Review a lesson you have already presented so the students can hear and see it in a different way.
  • View actively - Think of the TV as a teacher. Do you turn off the lights when you talk ? Would you be satisfied with a class that sat and stared at you for thirty minutes without responding or interacting? The TV can't act as teacher if students aren't active. Interactive viewing requires three simple steps:
    1. Prepare -let students know why they are watching, what to look for, or what you will ask when the video is over. The younger the student, the more detailed the description should be of what they are going to see.
    2. Participate - View interactively. Sing along, answer questions aloud as they are posed, pause to discuss possible outcomes or solutions before the video presents them, pause to check for comprehension, pause to predict action, write down clues, etc.
    3. Connect to other activities - Bring the video lessons off the screen and into the classroom or home by choosing follow-up activities that connect the viewing experience to hands-on exercises or real-life experience. With younger students, be sure to explain the connections between the video and the activities you do.

  • Copyright: Insighters Educational Consulting 1997

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Please Teachers, do not show TV in class as a daily routine

We all know how difficult and challenging it can be for parents to protect their children from Medias influences.
Raising a child TV free or aware of the potential effect of TV is a big challenge in this world where TV is everywhere.

So I felt really bad when I learned that TV programs were shown to the children in their school on a daily basis. And what kind of programs?
No cartoon please.
School is a learning environment; I would expect a school to nurture the love for books, to encourage children to satisfy their needs for imaginary tales through books!
Not by turning on the Television: This totally passive way to satisfy their need for escape.
I would understand the use of TV as a tool, a tool to show documentaries which illustrate a subject reviewed in the classroom.
I would eventually understand a video with songs to stimulate their interests.
I would understand a video of cartoon ones in a while as the subject of a discussion in the class.
But showing every day cartoons for 20 minutes! Please do not do that.
Listening to a tape would be a lot better. Some children could close their eyes, relax and imagine their own images and some other would do the same with their eyes open. In any case it would be a lot more relaxing; any studies would show that to you.
Please teachers, do not do that to our children.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Educational Videos May Not Make Baby Brainy, Study Finds

Researchers at the University of Washington have found that the videos marketed by Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby and other producers of videos for infants may not make babies smarter and could even have the opposite effect, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Such videos could actually slow language development, the study revealed.

The report, released on Tuesday, concluded that for every hour children spent watching those programs, they understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who didn’t watch them, the Post-Intelligencer reported.

The babies exposed to the videos also got scores on language skills tests that were 17 percent lower than those of the babies who weren’t.

“We don’t think there is any evidence that it is good for development at all,” study co-author Andrew Meltzoff told the Post-Intelligencer.

But the negative impact on growth seemed to depend on the ages of the children. Babies 8 to 16 months old who watched the videos seemed to have delayed retention of vocabulary, whereas those 17 to 24 months old weren't affected.

read article at:

Friday, March 02, 2007

question of the day: image of death

What about seeing image of death on TV?
When my kids screened this amazing documentary series about Homo Sapiens, they saw 2 of them drowning.
The images where soft but "real". I mean by real, that it was not a cartoon, or a glamorized death from a movie.
It was simple, like most of the time in real life. but thoses scenes raised many questions from my daughter and many discussions around death, as, when watching meat of fish in the plate: "is this dead?" "what was this when it was alive?"
Since those scenes, death stays the main question.
I did interrogate myself about the experience.
Was it too early for them to witness such images?
Well, my conclusion was no. And I rather have them get those healthy reactions, being puzzled, even a little uncomfortable with this first contact with human death.
I would not have like for them to see it in a cartoon or a movie, and do not even notice...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What about Dora?

After many of my friends spoke about Dora in a positive way, I decided to watch 2 shows of it that we had on a DVD we got as a gift.

My kids were screaming at the screen, answering to Dora, kind of getting up to dance when they were supposed to (I had to encouragethem to get up).

I was first surprised by this "interactivity", with the arrow moving on the screen it felt more like a computer game to me in fact. Dora encourages children to repeat & participate in the show. Dora is always on a mission.

In many ways it reminded me of birthday party entertainment. Entertainers usually started by exciting the children, making them scream, feel as team, overcome obstacles, and it is a lot of fun!

In the show, everything has to be repeated over & over. At the end of each trip they shout We did it! We did it! Which is a little egobooster for the little ones.

I found the pace of the editing ok, not too fast. But at the end, I did not feel really comfortable with the show…

In fact, I did not like the show, the shouting, the repetition but most of all the storyline. It is so simplistic, basic. My children are far more intelligent than that!
I already exposed them to far more sophisticated programs with complex language and concept that they enjoyed and followed easily. In fact, I will use this program in my media education curriculum.

I would like to read your feeling and opinions about that show. Please do not hesitate to post your comment.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Choosing the video = feeding our kids imagination

We started our new year 2007 with a great hike!
It was so much fun. We stopped at a huge rock that we climbed and then my 4 and half twins took some rocks and started to break some other rocks. I am a homo sapiens” said my boy. “And me I am a homo erectus” said my girl.

Some may wonder, where did they got those names?
Well, very simple, they watched the documentary “A Species' Odyssey” by Jacques Malaterre. And here are what this documentary fed their imagination with:

The story begins with Orrorin tugenesis, the first hominid, who takes the first step for humankind as a way of coping in the high grasses of Kenya.
We encounter Lucy (Australopithecus anamensis), who some believe is the "grandmother" of mankind, as she tries to fit in with a group of bipeds.
We meet Homo habilis - explorer, inventor, juggler of ideas and man of power.
We watch Homo erectus as he masters fire and organizes the first-ever barbeque in history.
We follow the steps of Homo ergaster as he ventures out of the African cradle for the first time, forced by hunger or perhaps curiosity.
Finally, we meet the first Homo sapiens, who ultimately survive and thrive and dominate the planet.

They were fascinated, I was too!
When I told one of my friends that my kids were reenacting the beginning of humankind, she said “I wish mine does it too instead of playing princess all day long”.
Not that playing princess is bad or good, but
staying aware of what we are feeding our children brain with, seems relevant…