Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Today, as I was chatting with this mom I spoke about earlier, the one who explained to her little boy how watching TV make your brain all mushy, I end up giving her more tools to succeed.
She is so happy with the big change in her life since her boy stopped watching TV. She was telling me that he even started to be doing more independent playing.
Unhappily, not everyone understand her choice and some parents can even have some surprising reaction. So here is what happen to her as she was invited to one her friend house. She had told her friends about her choice to turn TV off and how happy she was feeling that it actually works so well and that her son does not ask for TV anymore. But when she arrived at the house of her friend, this one turned to her son and say with a big smile and an enthusiastic tone "Hey Brian, do you know what? TV is on!"
She was certainly chocked by such a reaction and turned to her friend to ask her why the first thing she was telling her son was something about TV as she knew what she was doing about it at home. The friend answered that she "just wanted him to feel comfortable"
Well, she recognized that this mom is putting her son a lot in front of TV. So she did not talk about it anymore but felt annoyed. I was not surprised as I've been there and I saw those reactions. The fact is that parents who use TV and particularly those who use it a lot (as the cheaper babysitter in the world) hate those who actually had the courage to turn it off. Somewhere, they always feel some guilt about leaving their children watch television and they tried to justify this many ways, one of them being exposing your child to more TV...
Anyway, I had to explain to her how to protect herself and her son from those situations. Being consistent is the key and for that, she needed to have a discussion with her son before visiting friends. First make it clear with him about her choice, remind him that TV is not good for him because it makes her brain mushy. Then explain to him that some people do not really care about it and continue to watch TV, and that, even if she disagrees with their choice, she cannot impose hers to them. So she could just tell him that she will really appreciate if he avoids the TV when it is on in other people house as much as possible, may be by going to play in an other room. And that he could eventually even explain to them that it is a lot more fun to play with his friend than watching TV.
What is really important is to make clear with him where you stand so he will not get confused by mixed messages. For example, you cannot tell him that he cannot watch TV at home but that it is ok to watch it at a friend house, this would be really confusing and even more with a friend reacting like the one in this case. So it is really important to make him feel the difference between your home, your choice and others. This way, he will know where to stand.
Speaking about playing more independently, I also had another advise that I had forgot to share: to borrow audio-books from the library. Children love when their parents read them a book or tell them stories. But it is not always possible for parents to read to them as they need to have time on their own. Well, here come the magic of audio-books. Give them some toys or paper and crayons to draw and put a story on.You may be really surprised by how quiet and relax your little one will be and how much free time you will get.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
remember? The here and now that get on your nerve?
When they are little, we think it will pass, this behavior being part of the babies behavior who still need to learn to wait. But instead of getting better, it can become worse...
Just look around and see. Technology is a great thing, no doubt about it, but what happen when it is technology who command the human and not the opposite?
As I was going to school to pick up my children, listening to some news show on the radio and looking around, I noticed that all the parents around me were on the phone! Some were speaking, some were texting, some were obviously scrolling to find something on their smartphone. All of them were with their head down.
One of the mom was opening the door to her little girl, still speaking on the phone, she had no time for a "Hi honey, how was your day?" She was simply completely absorbed by her conversation.
I felt sad for her and her little girl and started wondering: could she have wait before answering that call? Is that so urgent? Like if a bomb was going to be launched and the decision of saying yes or no could not wait a few more minutes?
Did you notice that when their cell phone ring, most people said "sorry" and pick it up. I always wonder if their voice-mail is on strike? Why don't they simply let their voice-mail do its job in the first place and then check to see if the matter is really super urgent?
For example, this mom could have pick up her daughter nicely, enjoy a bit of conversation with her driving home and then check her voice-mail to see if she really had to call back shortly or not.
But no, as all those parents around me, she had to pick up the phone, she could not wait: here and now!
Our world is going faster and faster and we are loosing control. we are just following the flow instead of controlling it. Life without cell phone is not that long ago, may be 15 years ago? We all had answering machine and we all used to not be on call. We were taking more time to think may be?
Anyway, what kind of example is that? How can we be surprised then that our children are getting more impatient about everything.
I saw a commercial today about a smartphone, I think, or about the technology behind it, I forgot. But the script was showing a dad always travelling who was able to communicate with his daughter over the years because of that technology. Is that so?
Do you really think that dads were not calling their daughter before?
Ok, they were calling them from hotel or public cabin, it was less comfortable and true, they were not showing them anything as they did not have a camera in the phone. But they were may be talking more, like in this commercial, the dad was showing with his smartphone the surprise he was getting for his daughter: a guitar. I guess that the same dad without a cellphone would have describe the guitar instead of showing it. Confusion can come from commercial. Children may easily think that he can be a great dad because he has a smartphone and this is exactly the ambiguity that is used by the advertiser.
The cult of the here and now is everywhere and the children are born in it. They never saw a world without cellphone, internet. And advertiser are also showing them a world were they can wish and get whatever they want... oh well, sure they need also money as there is no genie in the lamp...
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Last week, we were chatting on the parking lot of our gym. She was telling me that her 4 years old boy really love to watch television and that she would love to not have any TV at all at home. On the other end, she was also telling me that it is really convenient for her to place him in front off the TV so she has some time to do some other things, like preparing him for day care or cooking diner.
So we started chatting about it. I was actually telling her that watching TV in the morning is the worse as it put the brain in a passive mood and so may compromise the day for her little one and suggest that she simply start by not turning the TV on in the morning. She was scared by the potential reaction of her little one.
I explained to her that it was just a question of habits, when the TV is off, the children find other way to entertain themselves She was actually scared that he would simply bother her for more attention. I suggest to explain clearly to her little one that Mommy is not available right now and that he could play with this or that instead. I suggest that she reserves some toys exclusively for this specific moment in the morning. Sure, she was not convinced at all. But she said that she will try.
And here we go, this morning she was sooo happy! It works!
Well she did it her own way, she told her little boy that she had met me and that I had explain to her that watching TV particularly in the morning was going to make his brain to mushy and that it will not develop really well anymore so it will be better to not turn the TV on. Her son simply said OK. And did not ask for TV later, not even in the afternoon!
I was very excited to share this story with you. And very impressed by her little boy!
Monday, October 01, 2012
My friend does not want her daughter to have her own computer and even if she did create an email address for her, she does not let her use it. She is extremely reluctant to leave her daughter access that whole technology.
In my family we are very comfortable with new technology. What I mean by that is that both my husband and I are using computer to work. So it is true that computer are always on in the house. TV is off but computer is on. It is a fact that children learn by example. So it seems more logic to me to teach them how to...
As I said since I started this blog, when you live next to a lake, what do you do to protect your children: build a wall between your house and the lake or teach them how to swim?
My position is to teach them how to swim.
So this is why my children have their own computer, their email...
They are very familiar with the use of Ipad, Ipod, youtube, research on the internet... They know what is facebook and what can be dangerous about it.
I chose to teach them and be with them when they use those new technologies. I stay extremely vigilant as I do not want them to waste time with it.
Here is how I see it, all those technologies are tools, using those tools is not bad, being used or manipulated by them is.
I believe that learning the proper way to use new technology is a fair choice and that the time allowed to those is the key. Real life must be most of our kids life: playing with other, spending time with family and friends, reading, practicing sport and art, hanging out, dreaming...
In our house we do not have any video games, our children know some of them as they did play them in friends house. But they do not care about them. As my son put it when he sit at the piano to practice "this is my video-game". In other word, they have other interest.
And in any case, as they do not have time to watch TV, they do not have much time to spend on the computer either.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Is technology sapping children’s creativity?
Monday, June 11, 2012
Racial and Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Children’s Television Use and Self-Esteem A Longitudinal Panel Study
In discussing the results of their findings, the authors point to three potential explanations:
- Male characters are portrayed as powerful, strong, rational, and the main character, while in contrast, female characters are portrayed as emotional, sensitive, and more likely to be a sidekick or love interest. In contrast to white characters, black male characters are more likely to be depicted as menacing or unruly, and black female characters are more likely to be shown as exotic and sexually available. As a result, young white boys have greater access to positive media representation. Social identity theory would argue that exposure to this coded messaging helps young white boys believe that anything is possible, and that they can attain, achieve, and be heroes.
- If television serves to reinforce gender and racial stereotypes, then social identity theory also predicts that the white girls, black girls, and black boys in the study used messages from the media to evaluate themselves, and that these comparisons can impact self esteem. In addition to messages kids get from family members, peers, community members, and other areas in their lives, if white and black girls and black boys also absorb messages from the media, it could impact their self esteem if they do not see themselves as successful, as main characters, or as heroes.
- If kids are watching television, this might be displacing real-life experiences that could otherwise build self esteem. (The study found that black kids watched 10 hours more of television than white kids did.) Arguably, these kids could be learning more about themselves through activities other than television, which could otherwise have raised self esteem. (The authors note that this theory does not explain why watching television hurts self esteem for girls and kids of color but raises self esteem in white boys who watch a lot of TV.)
Co-researcher Nicole Martins explained the contrast between white male, female, and black male characters on television:
“Regardless of what show you’re watching, if you’re a white male, things in life are pretty good for [people who look like] you. You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there.
“If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles. The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.
“Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to. If we think about those kinds of messages, that’s what’s responsible for the impact.”
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Impact of Television on
Child Brain Development
chillibreeze writer — Shurobi Hindocha
The human brain continues to be an enigma. For many decades, researchers have toiled hard to understand as to why the human species is the only one which is born with a foetal brain. It is indeed no less than an evolutionary miracle that the brain in fact triples in volume during the first two years of a child’s life. Evidently there is something magical happening in the brain. The brain could be visualized as a massive and unending network of neural pathways, made up of ‘neurons’ or brain cells as we commonly know them. It is said that there are up to ten times the number of neurons in the developing brain as there are the number of stars in the galaxy! Healthy brain development occurs through continual interaction of these neurons, at all-time firing ‘synapses’ or brain connections almost at the rate of 700 synapses per second. These synaptic connections essentially lay the foundation of all fundamental learning and development in a child’s life.
Having established the significance of these synaptic connections in early childhood years, it really seems disastrous that a simple activity of watching an hour or two of ‘harmless television’ could in fact alter neural pathways forever and adversely affect brain development leading to severe disorders like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), infantile insomnia, language and other developmental delays, obesity and aggressive and regressive behaviour patterns in children.
So how do synaptic connections get established?
Children in the age group of birth to five are said to be in the motor sensory phase of development; they are trying to make sense of the various aspects of the world by means of sensory stimuli available around them. Sight, touch, tastes and smells, handling objects, stacking blocks, pouring, washing, bending and moulding, exploring, running, talking aloud and being spoken to, social interaction and imitation are few of the many ways by which children are learning to decode their environment and establishing movement and behaviour patterns that will enable them to become complete individuals eventually. Children learn to apply logic, arrive at solutions, find creative and alternative options for any given problem, and express emotions and opinion related to contextual situations only through engaging and positive interaction with the environment and the people therein.
The brain synapses formed through such experiences help in development of the logical, detail and structure oriented, problem solving, and language enthused Left Brain, as also the intuitive, emotional, spontaneous, creative and macro enthused Right Brain. However, research has it that when the television comes on, the rays of the monitor releases hormones like endorphins and low level ‘alpha brain waves’ which correlate to drug usage and states of induced hypnosis. Television essentially switches off the left brain activity completely; consequentially the right brain, which is incapacitated to deal with logical reasoning, experiences stress and also gets evidently cut off. The bright lights and colours, swift pans, distracting flashes and zooms which are an integral part of most video content made for children awake the ‘orienting response’ in the brain, which is activated only in ‘fight or flight’ situations. Thus the only part of the brain that is alert when a child is watching TV is the part which renowned psychoanalyst Freud relates to the most basic primordial instincts of man.
Fundamental human functions
It has been proved that high level gamma waves that develop the ‘grey matter’ in the brain, are released only when individuals are involved in executing the most fundamental human functions like language, reasoning and movement, whether it is through social interaction, reading story books or ‘being read to’, writing essays, drawing or sculpting, playing a musical instrument or dancing. When children are propped in front of the TV, they have neither contextual background nor appropriate responses to their questions or remarks. Even the so called ‘educational videos’ do not have any scientific research backup to prove that they in any way help early literacy development. TV robs children of the special bonding time that they ought to share with parents and an average child learns 8 to 10 fewer words as compared to children who spend time talking with their caregivers.
The constant noise of the TV in the background also mutes the ‘conscious inner voice’ that only humans use while they are reading, going over a thought or are problem solving. ‘Sequential thought building’ which is so important for progress in every field has its root cut off even before it can hope to be manifested.
Impact on children
A young child’s brain and visual/auditory sense cannot cope with dramatic shifts in contexts, scenes and time frames and loses focus every few seconds; as a result children exposed to more than an hour of screen time daily eventually develop ADHD and other learning difficulties by the age of seven. Memory retention also declines as the brain is constantly shifting focus and remembers only those incidents which have had most impact from the pleasure point of view. Thus retention of academic concepts conveniently gets replaced by recent or more impactful TV content.
It would be redundant to state that TV has a direct connection to childhood and adult obesity. Young children who cultivate the habit of watching TV during meal time also get habituated to snacking in front of the TV as they grow. Advertisements that promote junk food gradually lead the child into obesity and eating disorders. If one does observe the pattern, one could hardly find commercials on air that promote healthy food habits.
Another concern TV viewing raises is that violence in ‘reel life’ makes children insensitive to violence in ‘real life’. Most movies promote the idea that the protagonist has the moral right to hurt and kill, which in real life is a culpable offence. Aggressive and regressive behaviour patterns seem to be considered normal to a growing child who watches 2 to 3 hours of TV daily and would have witnessed about 30,000 murders and violent attempts by the time he has reach adulthood.
These figures and findings are scary to any parent who has until now ‘for the good of the child’ regarded TV as a beneficial tool. However, the future lies in the hands of well informed and positively educated parents who can deal with TV viewing from a developmental perspective. First off, it is important that growing children be educated about the unrealistic portrayal of life that TV offers. Secondly, Parents who help children learn to budget TV time and balance other important activities like studying, free play, family bonding time, meal time etc. can be sure that TV viewing functions only as an entertainment period and not as the most sought after phase in a day’s work. Content appropriateness must be complimented with a parent’s suitable explanations and resourcefulness if TV must become a developmental tool.
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends absolutely ‘no screen time’ for children under the age of two years and less than two hours for children above three. The young and dazzling infant minds who will take charge of the future world are building magical neural pathways every second. The continuously changing ‘brain plasticity’ is going to define the strength of the gen next. Clearly, such critical phases of development cannot be overlooked for the sake of mere pleasure and entertainment.
In the words of the AAP, ‘the only right thing to do with the TV is to ‘TURN IT OFF!’
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Monday, April 02, 2012
Children and TV: Limiting your child's screen time
Children and TV often go hand in hand. Understand the effects of too much screen time — and how to enforce reasonable limits.By Mayo Clinic staff
Are you concerned about how much time your child spends watching TV or playing video games? Although some screen time can be educational, it's easy to go overboard. Consider this guide to children and TV, including what you can do to keep your child's screen time in check.
The effects of too much screen time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting a child's use of TV, movies, video and computer games to no more than one or two hours a day. Too much screen time has been linked to:
- Obesity. Children who watch more than two hours of TV a day are more likely to be overweight.
- Irregular sleep. The more TV children watch, the more likely they are to resist going to bed and to have trouble falling asleep.
- Behavioral problems. Elementary students who spend more than two hours a day watching TV or using a computer are more likely to have emotional, social and attention problems. Exposure to video games also increases the risk of attention problems in children. Children who watch excessive amounts of TV are more likely to bully than children who don't.
- Impaired academic performance. Elementary students who have TVs in their bedrooms tend to perform worse on tests than those who don't.
- Violence. Too much exposure to violence on TV and in movies, music videos, and video and computer games can desensitize children to violence. As a result, children may learn to accept violent behavior as a normal part of life and a way to solve problems.
- Less time for play. Excessive screen time leaves less time for active, creative play.
How to limit screen time
Your child's total daily screen time may be greater than you realize. Start monitoring it. In the meantime, you can take simple steps to reduce the amount of time your child spends watching TV, movies and videos or playing video or computer games:
- Eliminate background TV. If the TV is turned on — even if it's just in the background — it's likely to draw your child's attention. If you're not actively watching a show, turn off the TV.
- Keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom. Children who have TVs in their bedrooms watch more TV and videos than children who don't. Monitor your child's screen time and the websites he or she is visiting by keeping computers in a common area in your house.
- Don't eat in front of the TV. Allowing your child to eat or snack in front of the TV increases his or her screen time. The habit also encourages mindless munching, which can lead to weight gain.
- Set school day rules. Most children have limited free time during the school week. Don't let your child spend all of it in front of a screen. Avoid using TV and video or computer games as a reward for finishing homework and chores.
- Talk to your child's caregivers. Encourage other adults in your child's life to limit your child's screen time, too.
- Suggest other activities. Rather than relying on screen time for entertainment, help your child find other things to do. Consider classic activities, such as reading, playing a sport or trying a new board game.
- Set a good example. Be a good role model by limiting your own screen time.
- Unplug it. If screen time is becoming a source of tension in your family, unplug the TV, turn off the computer or put away the video games for a while. You might designate one day a week a screen-free day. To prevent unauthorized TV viewing, put a lock on your TV's electrical plug.
Become an active participant
When your child has screen time, make it as engaging as possible:
- Make viewing an event. Rather than keeping the TV on all of the time, treat watching TV as though you were planning to see a movie in a theater. Choose a show and pick a specific time to watch it.
- Plan what your child views. Instead of flipping through channels, seek quality videos or use a program guide to select appropriate shows. Pay attention to TV Parental Guidelines — a system that rates programs based on suitability for children. Make a list of the programs your child can watch for the week and post it in a visible spot, such as near the TV or on the refrigerator. Use parental control settings on your home computer. Preview video games before allowing your child to play them.
- Watch with your child. Whenever possible, watch programs together — and talk about what you see.
- Record programs and watch them later. This will allow you to skip or fast-forward through commercials selling toys, junk food and other products, as well as pause a program when you want to discuss something you've watched — such as a depiction of family values, violence or drug abuse. When watching live programs, use the mute button during commercials.
- Choose video games that encourage physical activity. Better yet, make the games a family experience.
It can be difficult to start limiting your child's screen time, especially if your child already has a TV in his or her bedroom or your family eats dinner in front of the TV. It's worth the effort, however. By creating new household rules and steadily making small changes in your child's routine, you can curb screen time and its effects.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
- Approximate number of studies examining TV's effects on children: 4,000
- Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful
- conversation with their children: 3.5
- Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
- Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
- Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children's TV watching: 73
- Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV
- and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
- Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
- Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500