Saturday, December 18, 2010

Still no time for TV

Tonight again, we could not have watch TV, we were too busy. Before diner, we took some clay and the four of us, my two children, my husband and me, sculpted some white air dry clay. We made some little characters that we will be happy to paint when the clay will be dry.

We then started to read some fun magazines they just got from France. And during the diner, we laugh a lot as my children were telling us all the new jokes they have discover.

After diner we read a little more and we started a game: a bingo! Bingo is fun for all age, particularly when you always have some surprise prizes for each winner. The fun is also to announce each number faster and faster, so each player must read all his numbers really fast to not miss any.

And after the bingo, as it is vacation, the children grabbed again their magazine to do some cross puzzles.
Playing many games, particularly board games or cards games, is an activity we love in our house. I would say that reading and playing games are the main activities in the evening.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What do we do without TV?

When I speak with other parents or children I noticed that most of them have the same routine on school days, they get home, have their snack, or get their snack on their way to after-school activities, do their homework and then get some free time to play with their video-games or watch TV.

As I often say, we do not have much time to watch TV in our home, we do have a lot of activities after school and we do have homework too.

Just thinking about what we are doing when homework is done ?

Well, we laugh a lot. Tonight my children finished to prepare little card and present to bring to school and it took them a great deal of time. They had to create, design, write and decide when and to whom.

Then it was time for diner. After a little talk we decide to play one of my kids favorite game at the table: "les incollables" a game of questions and answers adapted to their grade, kind of a "trivial pursuit" adapted to each grade. It is fun and challenging and make them learn some stuff on the way. One of tonight question was an anagram from this word: "ceinturon". This is a French word and they are working on this anagram since half an hour now, with a lot of giggles!
As they are having a lot of trouble with this anagram, they are creating tone of new words with those letters and get even more giggles from all this creation's frenzy.

Oh well, I am going to interrupt them sadly as it is time for bath.

Monday, December 13, 2010

TV in the car

Today, I noticed a TV in the Van before me, a cartoon was on. A child was watching. I thought about what I do in the car with my children.

First what we do when I pick them up from school, well we talk! It is a fun time to recall what happen at school, exciting. It became a routine of sharing their day in their world.

We also sing in the car, and very often actually. My daughter likes to sing all the song she is writing, my son enjoy to learn them too and they put up the show.

We also listen to music for sure, mostly my son's favorites lately, a compilation of all the music he loves. We also listen to all kind of different music, from children song to rock and roll.

And we listen to stories, particularly if we are in the mood for a quiet relaxing time. We have a bunch of great stories, audio-books that we can all enjoy.
And as it is Christmas time, we are listening to Christmas stories right now.

Our car is turned easily as a fun place to be. So when I saw this TV with cartoon, I felt sad. TV help to silence anything and everything.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thalassa and the discovery of the world

My children love the French Magazine anyone may watch on TV5monde, the French channel all over the world. Here is how TV5 presents Thalassa: Georges Pernoud and the entire "Thalassa" crew take you on board each week to visit faraway destinations and discover different cultures, people and continents."

This magazine is an amazing windows on the world, those reporters are discovering interesting situations, stories, people which gave us an opportunity to learn a lot about our planet, human kind, animals, culture...

It's not only the opportunity to learn about all those fascinating facts but also learn more about geography and professions that our children do not have much opportunity to cross in their daily life: scientists who work and research on all kind of field regarding ocean and nature, botanist, ecologist, marine biologist, microbiologist, zoologist...

My son really enjoy a lot this magazine :-)
I am not sure that children who watch TV on a daily basis and watch essentially entertainment programs like cartoon and movies, will be as interested by that type of program...

I would say that watching TV pretty rarely is making those program even more attractive. I can see that watching my daughter reaction, she loves entertainment, cartoons, movies. But she also loves watching TV so when I propose to my children to come watch "Thalassa" she is simply happy to watch something. But if I was to ask her, do you want to watch Thalassa or a cartoon or a movie, I know she will choose the cartoon or the movie. My son will still choose Thalassa.

And this is not the only example I have around me, I saw that when I was visiting homes where children watch television daily, they are not watching much documentary. I did this experience in a public school too, in second grade, in a class of 26 children, we show the children a fun documentary about the solar system, after 5 minutes already a few children were not watching anymore, then a few more and after 15 minutes only 6 children were still watching attentively the documentary, all the other were chatting, day dreaming or playing. All those children (beside mine) are watching television daily, most of them are also playing video-game daily.

I believe that those children got used to be entertain by those fictional programs, to not have to think, be in a passive state and that they became addicted to this.

It seems that children who do not watch TV programs daily and do not watch many fictional programs, have a better chance to appreciate documentaries.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pictures in their brain

Special effects are an interesting aspect of movies so I showed my children videos of special effects, one was a video of a workshop actors attend in order to learn and experiment flying effect fight.. They sure loved them, seeing those adult pretending to fight and having fun.

I also show them two scenes of "Crounching tiger, hidden dragon", fight scenes, one where the father get a weapon in his head and end up dead. Not a good image, too hard. My son was chocked and a little disturbed. I remind them quickly that he was not dead, that it was just an actor and ask them to imagine which special effect have been used in order to give this appearance to the actor.

They just have screen how to make an hand looked bloody with a piece of glass in it, even if they found it disgusting, it gave them a good start to imagine how to make this "weapon looked inside the head" May be a piece of cardboard painted in a metallic silver color and glue on his head? They took the time to brainstorm some solution. The scene was so present in their head that the next day they told it to their friend, and the day after to another one. They had to share, they had to speak it out, they had to digest it, to proceed it.

The whole fight which is violent (it is still a fight) disturbed more my son than my daughter. He does not like movies and particularly those where people are mean and violent, so the fight, even if he found it interesting, made him uncomfortable. So to process it, he mimed it. He pretended to fight like them. But I know my son, I know that those images were not welcome in his head. I thought he was ready to screen how those fight were choreographed and how those special effects where made, which he was really ready for, he liked to see the actors workshop. But he did not appreciated to see the actual scene.

I know it will take some time to "digest" those violent scenes. Watching images is never without consequences. Just remember how well you did sleep after seeing a violent movie or an horror one?

I recognize that I avoid programs like CSI or Criminal Mind for example, Those stories are vicious, deviated, sick and are easily disturbing my sleep. They can even haunted me, particularly if they speak about children.
I believe that my reaction as well as my children reaction, is healthy. It prove that we are still sensitive.
Showing violent images always has consequence on the brain and his functions. I happily continue to closely choose what kind of images my children are exposed to. I am always there, present, available and ready to help them proceed what they saw.
Happily they never saw a violent movie. They did not see Star Wars even if they know the stories pretty well as they read many star wars books. I did show them one or two scenes of some star wars, particularly one with Yoda, so they know what those movies are about. But at 8 years old, they are too young for those images.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Watching TV 'is bad for children'

Children under two should not be allowed to watch any TV, experts say.

Older children should watch no more than two hours a day, the researchers at the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Centre in Seattle said.

Each hour in front of the TV increased a child's chances of attention deficit disorder by 10%, their research in the Pediatrics journal showed.

The study of 1,345 children showed three hours TV a day made children 30% more likely to have the disorder.

Dr Dimitri Christakis at the children's hospital led the study. He said: "The newborn brain develops very rapidly during the first two to three years of life. It's really being wired."

Children who were exposed to the unrealistic levels of stimulation at a young age continued to expect this in later life, leading to difficulty dealing with the slower pace of school and homework, he said.

"TV can cause the developing mind to experience unnatural levels of stimulation," he said.


This was made worse by the rapid image change that television makers used to keep young children interested, Dr Christakis added.

Parents were questioned about their children's viewing habits and asked to rate their behaviour at age seven on a scale similar to that used to diagnose attention deficit disorders.

The youngsters who watched the most television were more likely to rank within the top 10% for concentration problems, impulsiveness, restlessness and being easily confused.

Frederick Zimmerman of the University of Washington in Seattle, another of the authors, said it was impossible to say what a "safe" level of TV viewing would be for children between the ages of one and three.

"Each hour has an additional risk. You might say there's no safe level since there's a small but increased risk with each hour," he said.

"Things are a trade-off. Some parents might want to take that risk. We didn't find a safe level in that sense."

Between three and five per cent of children in the US are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

The researchers admitted there could be problems in the study as the parents' views may not be totally accurate.

Also it was not possible to know whether the children already had attention problems early on that attracted them to TV viewing.

Too much screen time can psychologically harm kids

Negative effects occurs no matter how active children were during the rest of the day, study finds

NEW YORK — More than two hours a day spent watching television or playing computer games could put a child at greater risk for psychological problems, suggests a new study.

British researchers found the effect held regardless of how active kids were during the rest of the day.

"We know that physical activity is good for both physical and mental health in children and there is some evidence that screen viewing is associated with negative behaviors," lead researcher Dr. Angie Page of the University of Bristol told Reuters Health in an e-mail. "But it wasn't clear whether having high physical activity levels would 'compensate' for high levels of screen viewing in children."

Page and her colleagues studied more than 1,000 kids between the ages of 10 and 11. Over seven days, the children filled out a questionnaire reporting how much time they spent daily in front of a television or computer and answering questions describing their mental state -- including emotional, behavioral, and peer-related problems. Meanwhile, an accelerometer measured their physical activity.

The odds of significant psychological difficulties were about 60 percent higher for children spending longer than two hours a day in front of either screen compared with kids exposed to less screen time, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. For children with more than two hours of both types of screen time during the day, the odds more than doubled.

The effect was seen regardless of sex, age, stage of puberty, or level of educational or economic deprivation.

Psychological problems further increased if kids fell short of an hour of moderate to rigorous daily exercise in addition to the increased screen time. However, physical activity did not appear to compensate for the psychological consequences of screen time.

Give kids screen-time budget
The researchers also found that sedentary time itself was not related to mental wellbeing. "It seems more like what you are doing in that sedentary time that is important," said Page, noting the lack of negative effect found for activities such as reading and doing homework.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Netflix vs TV

The other day one of my friend was telling me that she was thinking about canceling the cable because she cannot control how much TV her son is watching. It is not easy for her to tell her son to turn off the TV, it turns easily to a struggle. Unhappily she was realizing that her son was not moving enough anymore and spending more and more time in front of the TV.
One of my friend had just canceled her cable to keep Netflix instead and was really happy with the result: No more commercial, only programs she approved, children still happy screening better programs.

So this is exactly what I suggested to my friend, Netflix appears to be a good alternative to TV. I am meeting a lot of parents who would like to limit their children screen time but do not know how. Most of them are mothers who also need to convince their husband that TV and video games are not good for the children. Many dads actually spent a lot of time in front of the screen, some for sport, some even for video games. So it makes it even more complicated for mothers to convince their children to reduce their screen time...

Netflix may be their best ally. And I would say that not exposing their children to commercials is already a great step forward.

Monday, October 04, 2010

why children may actually enjoy News?

Let me first remind you that I do not think that children younger than 7 years old should watch news. Why 7 years old?
Well, simply because 7 years old is the age of reason. At 7 "plus or minus one," your child begins to problem-solve in a new way, using reason rather than pure intuition. He can start separating fantasy from reality.

First I should explain what the kind of news I am speaking about is. I am certainly not speaking about local news where you may see police chasing car, or report on all kind of crime happening in your city or what happen to stars...
I am speaking about real news; those which speak about international news, economy, politics, sciences, ecology... news that are not interrupted by commercials.

In fact news via the internet is certainly the best option to select the news your child can actually safely watch and learn from. TV can be windows on the world and not everything in the world is appropriate for his eyes.

So, let say that you do select some news from the internet that you find interesting like the oil spill disaster along the Gulf Coast for example, this disaster was worth showing and discussing about, it is raising your child awareness of ecology. Children are naturally feeling concerned by the well-being of the planet.

Children can also be interested by politics. They are naturally fascinated by their president and want to understand why all adult are looking at him as an important person. Plus they understand he has powers, and powers do fascinate children and not only in cartoon.

Children, who do not watch television programs and not much entertainment, may tend to be more receptive to news and factual programs. However, this is probably more a question of personality. Some children are naturally more attracted to fiction than fact and the other way too. Exactly like when choosing books in a library, some children will look for fact, sciences, geographic etc, and some will be more interested by fiction, novel, fantasy.

I would tend to think that with those who like fantasy better, it is even more important to preserve and encourage their interest for reality and their awareness for the world around them. The real world is also full of stories worth knowing and eventually watching. I am thinking for example of those people devote to a noble cause, like saving animal here or there on a planet. I know that both my children felt very concerned when they learned that some people around the globe where fishing too much, ignoring the future of the ocean, the fact that in 50 years we may not have any more fishes in the ocean if they do not stop to think short term. “So in 50 years, we will not have any more fish to eat…” This was very scary for them, and it is also a good lesson about the consequence of selfishness.

So yes, News can be used as a great tool to discover the world, discuss as a family about interesting subject and increase our children knowledge in a fun way.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Does parents want TV to raise their children?

On one side, pediatrics are raising their voice to warn parents about the danger of television.
On another one, researches show also the bad influence TV can have on children in many ways.
Other studies show how hours spend watching TV are connected to overweight.
Other studies show the relation between Time in front of the screen and ADD.

So many studies, so many researches, many articles you may read on this blog and still so many parents leaving their children spend hours and hours in front of TV.

So many reasons as well, parents tired and needing a break, parents needing time to prepare diner, and the free baby-sitter so handy, right there, always available.

However, parents have always needed to have a break and TV did not exist. So I did they do?
Very simple, children did not need TV as TV did not exist. One need to drink and eat but no one need TV.
I can assure you that when children are raised without watching TV, they do not need it and they still give parents a break. They go in their bedroom to read quietly, they play with their toys, they go play outside, they take a long bath, they write songs...

Oh no!

Disney making more money in the worse interest of our children!

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Disney/ABC TV Group is shutting down decade-old cable channel SoapNet to make room for a new kids channel.

The company will launch Disney Junior, a 24-hour channel devoted to youngsters aged 2-7. The move will expand Disney Channel's current daytime programing block, Playhouse Disney, into its own network. The network will debut in 2012, taking advantage of the 75-million-home distribution of SoapNet.

"SoapNet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary," said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks. "But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company."

SoapNet mainly airs repeats of broadcast network daytime soap operas, particularly ABC programs, such as "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," as well as more contemporary titles like "One Tree Hill" and "Gilmore Girls."

With daytime soaps a dying breed on broadcast, and the kids TV market booming, it's no surprise Disney would shift the channel to target younger viewers.

Disney Junior will launch with 200 episodes annually of new series and current Playhouse Disney titles such as "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," "Handy Manny" and "Jungle Junction," as well as showcase classic Disney movies such as "Little Mermaid."

Horror! more for the TV baby-sitter, less activities for the children. How many parents are going to resist?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

News and children

After 7 years old, children start to develop a different approach to what is happening around them. Sure, every child is different, some are more curious than other.

At this age, the difference between a child who was not exposed to TV programs and certainly not to fiction programs like cartoons and other movies shows clearly.

Children who did not watch fiction but did eventually watch other age appropriated videos like documentaries, show quick interest in non-fiction programs. In a second grade class for example, one would quickly noticed who are the children over-exposed to television and to fiction in particular. Those children have a hard time watching documentaries. And it is too bad, as there is some really good one out there, starting with the DK series. Those are a great resource for teachers who can illustrate many subjects with documentaries.

News could be fun and interesting to watch for those children starting second grade, depending of which news!

As a French person, I do not watch American news. First of all, I cannot stand the multiple commercial cuts and I would never expose my children to this constant brainwashing. So, I am indeed watching French news which are never, ever, interrupted by commercials. Because I am watching the news via the internet, I can select which subjects are appropriate to my children. And there is a few each time. Like the discovery of bones of a new species of human or the eruption of a volcano or the importance of eating vegetables…

At 7 years old, children really start to show interested about the world around them; they have so many questions in their head and are hungry for knowledge. Television as well as the internet can be a great tool if parents do select closely which programs their children are watching and take the time to speak about those programs with them during or after watching them.

This media education should be natural in every home as much as teaching our children good eating habits. Both of those take time, energy and commitment, and it is worth it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


This article was published in "RESEARCH" at Ohio State University:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Students can learn some science concepts just as well from computers simulations as they do from direct observation, new research suggests.

A study found that people who used computer simulations to learn about moon phases understood the concepts just as well – and in some cases better – than did those who learned from collecting data from viewing the moon.

The results suggest the use of computer simulations in science classes may be an effective and often less expensive and time-consuming way to teach some science concepts, said Kathy Cabe Trundle, lead author of the study and associate professor of science education at Ohio State University.

“These results give us confidence that computer simulations can be effective in the classroom,” Trundle said. “But now we need to do further study to see if it works in others areas of science.”

Trundle conducted the study with Randy Bell, associate professor of science education at the University of Virginia. Their study appears online in the journal Computers & Education and will be published in a future print edition.

While there have been many studies examining computer use in the classroom, most have only examined whether students find computers easy to use and enjoy using them.

The few studies that have examined whether computers are effective for learning content have had mixed results, Trundle said. This study is an improvement because it actually compares people who used a computer simulation with those who had more direct observations.

“Our expectation was that the computer simulation would be at least as effective as direct observation in teaching about moon phases,” Trundle said.

“When we did our analysis, the simulation was just as effective in teaching two aspects of moon phases, and more effective in a third aspect. So we were excited by that.”

Participants in the study were 157 pre-service teachers-- master’s degree students who are in training to become early childhood teachers.

Studies have shown that the majority of people – including preservice students and the students they teach – do not understand the cause of moon phases.

This study examined how well these preservice teachers understood moon phases before and after taking a 10-week science methods course that included a unit on moon phases.

In contrast to traditional instruction, this class was inquiry-based, which meant that students learned from gathering data themselves -- either directly from viewing the moon or from the computer simulation. The participants then analyzed the data they gathered to identify patterns.

One class learned about moon phases using only a computer simulation, one group from nature alone, and a third group from both a computer simulation and nature.

The computer simulations were provided through a commercially available software program that allows users to visualize the movement of the sun and the moon through time from any point on Earth.

The researchers tested the participants’ understanding before and after the class in three areas: knowledge of sequences of moon phases, the causes of moon phases, and the shapes of moon phases.

Before the class, none of the preservice teachers had a complete scientific knowledge of the moon phases.

But after the class, teachers in all three groups – computer simulation only, nature only and simulation and nature – dramatically improved their scores. Up to 98 percent of the teachers showed they understood moon phases after the class was completed.

Those who used only computer simulations did just as well as others in learning causes of moon phases and shapes of moon phases. But those who used the simulations were actually slightly more likely than others to understand the sequences of moon phases.

“We believe that the computer simulation was more effective at teaching moon sequences because the students who used it had a complete set of data,” Trundle said.

“Those who observed the moon in nature didn’t – there were cloudy days and nights and other reasons why they couldn’t collect data every night they were supposed to.”

The ability to collect all the available data is just one reason why computer simulations may be better for teaching some science concepts.

“Classroom teachers don’t always have time to do nature-based instruction,” Trundle said. “In this case, computer simulations allow teachers to speed up instruction, which means students gather the same amount of data in a shorter period of time. It’s faster, easier and much less frustrating.”

Computer simulations may be especially important in teaching earth and space science, because it offers opportunities that aren’t available in the real world. For example, the software program used in this study allows students to see how the earth looks from the moon or from the sun, giving them a better perspective on how the earth-moon-sun system interacts.

Trundle said computer simulations might also be effective in teaching introductory biology. For example, students can take part in simulated animal dissections, overcoming some of the ethical and practical concerns.

Simulations would also allow students to “see” microscopic or even sub-atomic particles, giving them a better understanding of how particles interact.

“We’re finding that technology can help students learn and understand scientific concepts in a way that may be easier for teachers and just as effective for students,” Trundle said.


Contact: Kathy Trundle, (614) 292-5820;
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457;