Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Successful story

       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

Here and Now

How often parents and teachers are complaining about the lake of patience children have?
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

Great story from a 4 years old's mama

This morning a mom ran to me with open arms and a big smile, she said "you saved my life". I was really excited to know how.
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

Computer or not for pre-teen?

I had a very interesting discussion with one of my friend today. Our children are 10 years old. Mine have their own computer, they have an email and an Iphone that they use as an Ipod touch.
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?

Is technology sapping children’s creativity?

The technology revolution has sparked a new debate about just how much parents should allow their young children to play with iPads, iPhones and other devices. Here’s a smart look at the issue by early childhood development expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., when she won the Embracing the Legacy Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for work over several decades on behalf of children and families. Carlsson-Paige is author of “ Taking Back Childhood” and the mother of two artist sons, Matt and Kyle Damon.
By Nancy Carlsson-Paige
My 4-year-old grandson Jake who lives in Guatemala recently called my husband in his office on Skype. No one seems to know how Jake managed to get onto the computer and make the call. And, as I sat talking to a friend, her 3-year old somehow found her iPhone and found his way to a video of Cat in the Hat.

It wasn’t long ago that we were talking about how much TV kids should watch. And now here we are in the midst of a technology revolution that is happening so fast we can barely keep up with the number of devices and the options for screen time available to kids — on computers, tablets, cell phones, iPhones, flip down car monitors, interactive “app” toys, and on and on.
There has not been time to reflect on how this cascading influx of technology is affecting us all or to study the potentially far ranging influence it is having on our children. While electronic games for young children are flooding the market (72 percent of iTunes’ top-selling “education” apps are designed for preschoolers and elementary school children), the research on their impact is scant.
A great many adults these days tell me how impressed they are with their young kids’ facility with technology or with what they think the kids are learning as they interact with screens. But let’s back up a little, think about what we know about how children grow and learn, and consider this pervasive new influence through that lens.
Starting with What We Know
We have many decades of theory and research in child development that tell us so much about how young children learn. We know that, like children all over the world and throughout time, children need to play. We know that learning in the early years is active — that kids learn through direct play and hands-on experiences with people, with materials, and in nature.
Kids need first-hand engagement — they need to manipulate objects physically, engage all their senses, and move and interact with the 3-dimensional world. This is what maximizes their learning and brain development. A lot of the time children spend with screens takes time away from the activities we know they need for optimal growth. We know that children today are playing less than kids played in the past.
Researchers who have tracked children’s creativity for 50 years are seeing a significant decrease in creativity among children for the first time, especially younger children from kindergarten through sixth grade. This decline in creativity is thought to be due at least in part to the decline of play.
The Importance of Play
Play is a remarkably creative process that fosters emotional health, imagination, original thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and self-regulation. As children actively invent their own scenarios in play, they work their way through the challenges life presents and gain confidence and a sense of mastery. When they play with materials, children are building a foundation for understanding concepts and skills that form the basis for later academic learning.
And it’s not only concepts that children are learning as they play, they are learning how to learn: to take initiative, to ask questions, to create and solve their own problems. Open-ended materials such as blocks, play dough, art and building materials, sand and water encourage children to play creatively and in depth. Neuroscience tells us that as children play this way, connections and pathways in the brain become activated and then solidify.
Technology, Play, and Learning
What children see or interact with on the screen is only a representation of things in the real world. The screen symbols aren’t able to provide as full an experience for kids as the interactions they can have with real world people and things. And while playing games with apps and computers could be considered more active than TV viewing, it is still limited to what happens between the child and a device — it doesn’t involve the whole child’s body, brain, and senses. In addition, the activity itself and how to do it is already prescribed by a programmer. What the child does is play according to someone elseĆ¢€™s rules and design. This is profoundly different from a child having an original idea to make or do something.
For example, my granddaughter Isabella decided recently to make a house at a city park for a little caterpiller she found there. She spent over an hour finding building materials (sand, sticks, leaves) and creating the tiny house. To make the house in the first place was Isabella’s idea — her invention. How to make it, the materials to use, the design, the process were all up to her. With an interactive screen game, the deeper, more creative aspects of an activity such as these are not within the child’s control.
Many of the companies that market electronic products for young children make claims that these things are educational. While the research on the impact of apps on learning is meager and mixed, I can imagine studies might show that children can learn specific facts or skills by playing interactive games — such as how to count to 10. But parents should not be fooled into thinking this kind of learning is significant or foundational. Games and apps encourage kids to hit icons that lead to right (or wrong) answers. This promotes a kind of rote learning, but it is superficial. For example, a child could get right answers on simple addition problems: 3 + 2 = 5 and 2 + 4 = 6 by repeatedly playing an electronic math game, but still not grasp the underlying concepts of number.
How Might Time on Screens Affect Relationships?
Quite a few years ago, I began noticing how easy it was for parents to turn to screens in challenging moments with their children. This first hit me when I saw a little girl who was in tears over saying goodbye to her good friend and her mom offered her a TV program to watch. Now today, there are almost endless opportunities to quiet our kids with entertaining games, apps, and screen time. But when we do that, are they missing out on the chance to feel, to argue, to sit in silence, to listen, to be?
Screens can occupy, distract, and entertain children for sure; the appealing game or show really “works” in the short term. But harmful habits set in early on both sides: for the child, learning to look outside of oneself for happiness or distraction in tough times; for parents, learning to rely on screens instead of our own ingenuity to soothe and occupy kids.
I thought about how using screens could easily bypass kids’ chances for building emotional and social competence a few years ago when embarking on a family trip. My husband Doug and I were taking our grandsons Jackson and Miles away for the weekend for the first time. We were all packed up and ready to go when Miles’s eyes (he was five years old then) began to fill with tears.
“I have to say goodbye to Mama,” he said, struggling. I could see the powerful sadness sweeping over Miles now that the concrete reality of our leaving was upon him. I gently rubbed Miles’ chest (I felt so badly for him) and said, “When we go away from Mama, we have sad feelings.” I wanted to acknowledge the feelings he was having, but I wanted to help him too. “But you know what? We’re going to New York, we’ll sleep one night, then we come back the next day and Mama will be right here waiting for you!”
Then we got two photos of their family for each boy to carry with him on the trip. Miles was reassured. I knew that if he got through this, he was going to have a big accomplishment in his repertoire that would help him deal with other emotional transitions he’d have to make in the future.
What if when Miles had started to cry, I had handed him a phone app to play with to distract him from his sadness, or offered a Dora the Explorer episode to watch on my computer to cheer him up? It’s so easy to reach for this solution and it’s a sure success. But is it interfering with our longer term goals of helping our kids develop inner resilience and social skills? I’ve become concerned that many children today are learning to cope with their feelings and relationships by distraction, and that screens of all kinds have become easy substitutes for the inner life experiences and personal interactions children need to have.
What Guidance Can We Find?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity recommend keeping children under the age of two as screen-free as possible and limiting screen time for older children. I think this is a standard we should aim for. And as we try to limit screen time, we can do a lot to foster our children’s play as well. Children need uninterrupted playtime every day. The chance to play with materials that are open-ended will encourage the deepest, most creative and expanded play possible.
We can avoid buying electronic toys, games and apps as much as possible. If a child is playing with an electronic game, we can try to introduce a more open-ended material. such as blocks. I did this the other day with Evan, a 3 year old who was visiting us. It was hard to get him away from his mom’s computer, but when I pulled out some construcion toys, Evan jumped at the chance to start building.
When our kids are involved with any toy or material, we can ask ourselves, “What is the potential of this activity for fostering imaginative play and creative problem solving? Is there a more beneficial, more fully engaging, direct experience available for my child right now?”
Not long ago, a parent asked me if I thought the computer game calledConcentration was good for her 4-year-old daughter to play. “Well,” I answered, “I think the question is, could your daughter have a richer, fuller experience if she were playing the actual game of Concentration— if she were manipulating the picture cards, matching them, lining them up and sorting them, playing the game with another person instead of alone?”
Finally, as we try to make wise choices in using technology, we can ask ourselves: When and why do I choose to use screens with children? We can remember that our kids grow socially and emotionally by interacting with us and through direct experiences with others, and make sure we aren’t bypassing important everyday social and emotional “lessons” by how we use screens.
The fact that parents today have the option of so much technology can seem like both a gift and a curse. At certain times and in certain situations, when no other choice seems right, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have a screen activity available to us. But at other times, we can agonize because our kids are begging for screen time and we want to see them engage in more beneficial activities. Trying to follow the AAP Guidelines is often challenging and takes a lot more effort than the “quick tech fix.” But remembering what we know about how kids learn and grow helps to guide us. And our own ingenuity and inventiveness as parents is the best and sometimes most untapped resource of all.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Racial and Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Children’s Television Use and Self-Esteem A Longitudinal Panel Study

A longitudinal panel survey of 396 White and Black preadolescent boys and girls was conducted to assess the long-term effects of television consumption on global self-esteem. The results revealed television exposure, after controlling for age, body satisfaction, and baseline self-esteem, was significantly related to children’s self-esteem. Specifically, television exposure predicted a decrease in self-esteem for White and Black girls and Black boys, and an increase in self-esteem among White boys. The findings are discussed in terms of cultivation theory and social identity theory.

"We can't deny the fact that media has an influence when they're spending most of their time -- when they're not in school -- with the television," Martins said.

In discussing the results of their findings, the authors point to three potential explanations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

This is an interesting article:

Impact of Television on
Child Brain Development

Impact of Television on Child Brain Developmentchillibreeze writerShurobi 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.

Parents’ role

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

hard to eat healthy in front of TV

Did you notice how many commercial for food and even more for junk food are running on American TV?

Well, let say you decide to eat healthy, or you always eat healthy, you are starting a diet to loose some weight so you need to reduce your calories per day.

You are pretty good about what you eat and as most diet, you are not supposed to eat much carbs or none.
There are no pizza or hamburger in a diet (usually) and no ice cream or cookies either, but as you are watching your favorite show, you will see many commercials for all those.

So, you had your diner and you feel perfectly fine, you are not thinking about food at all. But as you are watching TV and you see so many commercial about food, junk food that you are not allow to eat, sugary stuff that are not on your diet, that it makes you think about it.

And this is it! TV commercials exist to create needs, they are repeated over and over to penetrate your brain and control your desire. So may be you will go back to the kitchen and indulge yourself.

For children, it is even worse. Their brain is still developing and is weaker than yours. Like it or not, it is a lot easier for advertisers to create needs in their brain, to trick them in fact.
And as you can see, they do not care at all about their health!

The only thing who interest advertisers is your money :-)

And the only way to protect your child from them, beside turning off the TV, is education, media literacy education, meaning teaching your children very early on about media, how they are done, what their goals are. Teaching them that commercials are lies and are made to sell...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Easy way to have media's independent children

I will continue to share my way of raising my children media's independent. As they are growing I can see if I succeed or not. They are now 10 years old and I am pretty happy and proud of the result so far.
If you go back in the oldest post you will read more details about how I did it.
If I tried to summarize I would say that I did not let them watch any TV at all for the 2 first years of their life.
When they reached 2 and half years old, or around it, I believe that I showed them some animal's documentaries, but about 1 or 2 per month maximum. The trick was that since they were born the TV was off and hidden inside an piece of furniture. My husband and I were never watching TV while the children were awake. TV never was part of their life. They learn early on to entertain themselves the same way I did when I was a child as TV was not the center of a family life as it was just starting to exist.

When they got a little older, meaning walking, we started to go out a lot, socialize with other parents and children. Happily Los Angeles is full of opportunities for parents who want to be active with their children, a lot of mommy and me fun classes and get together.

We also started to hike and they absolutely adore it. Escaping in those mountain was always a way to relax.

Park and recreation centers in Los Angeles are also an amazing resource for parents, they offer amazing classes in many different activities, sport or art, for a very affordable fee. We definitively took advantage of it.

So it is easy to fill up a day without TV, plus children really belong outside, they literally love to be outside, play in the park, in the sand, in the soil, in nature.

Sure as all of you I did need to have time to cook meal, and I never put my children in front of the TV to have free time to cook. I let them play with their toys, leave them "read" their picture books, listen to their Cd's. I have to say that I did have a lot of Cd's, many of music but also many with stories. I particularly love those books with Cd's inside. They love to watch the pictures while somebody is reading the story to them. And they love it still today, at 10.

Here is a fact: children do not need TV!

Later on I did start to teach them media literacy. I never let them watch a commercial. that was pretty simple as we were just watching tapes or DVD. So I did explain to them what a commercial was and help them make one, I videotaped them making their own commercial, they were about 6 years old. I believe that there is no better way to understand what media are, commercial are by making it yourself. And yes, they did understood very well.

From there I did teach them more about media. We made more little video and I showed them movie from Melies and the Lumiere's brothers, explaining to them that it was the beginning of cinema.

I strongly believe that media education should start in Elementary school. But it is essential that this continue to be reinforce at home. You will be surprised by the number of mother who come to me and tell me how much they would love to keep the TV off but their husband would not...
Many husband seem to be spending a lot of time in front of TV, particularly watching sport. Those wife told me that they would not accept to turn the TV off.

So suppose I am really lucky to have an understanding and supportive husband.

As my children grew, it was completely natural for them not to watch TV. We watch some tapes and DVD together now and then, always more documentaries than movies or entertainment programs. I believe that watching TV along with the children is essential, this way they can share with you their emotion and ask you any question they want.
I also always preview those programs before showing them to them. That way they never were exposed to violence, particularly the free violence in so many movies and cartoon.

As you surely supposing, we do not do video game at home. Does not mean that my children do not know about it as they are playing sometime at their friends house. But they easily bored by video games, they prefer to be outside. Does not mean they do not like computer, they love them, they love to learn about them, use some educational CD rom, go on some interactive website, or check their email.

They love to make movies as well. And for me, this is a big part of media literacy education. By making video they learn all the tricks.

May be some of you will think that it is easy for me as I am not working outside my home. In fact, I do not think it makes any difference. If you are a working mom, your child must be in daycare or school were they are not supposed to watch TV.
When they get back home, if you never get them in the habit of watching TV and keep the TV off while they are awake, they will entertain themselves another way.

After all, many of us did not grew up with Television on and we were not bored or unhappy.
actually letting your baby find ways to entertain himself will be an asset for a lifetime.

I hope this is helping. do not hesitate to ask me any questions you want.

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

still no time for TV

As probably many of you, I have a collection of DVD that I would show to my children. But we honestly do not find the time to watch them.
May be if we were living in a cold weather city we would watch more DVD?
I am not even sure. last week, my children were sick, so we did stay home for days. And yes, in fact they did watch one movie. But they spent most of their time doing art, reading, playing board-game and resting too.

After watching one movie, they are already tired of the screen and do not wish to watch more. There is some DVD that they wish to watch but having the choice between screen time and some other fun activities, they always choose to do something else: outdoor, playing game, singing, playing piano...

And time is running really fast, during school week, we never have time to turn the TV on. And on week-end, we are usually outside. In fact, we have also a lot of other activities that we would love to do and still have difficulties to find the time for them. For example, we have a few science kit that would be fun to use, and for that we need at least an hour to start. We also have some art and craft that are waiting to be use. And some new board-game still waiting to be opened.
So yes, if we were leaving in a cold city, we would probably find more time to do all those indoors activities and may be, we would watch a little more DVD. But in Los Angeles, when homework is done and the weather is nice outside, we all prefer to go out, play tennis, hike, go somewhere.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Money over children...

Until now, most states prohibited school bus advertising—in fact, only nine states allow it. But faced with unprecedented budget shortfalls, many states and school districts are considering what was once unthinkable: selling ads on the outside and interiors of school buses. Around the country, long-standing laws protecting students from school bus ads may be overturned. If passed, new legislation would transform school buses from Rhode Island to Washington into traveling billboards for everything from fast food to violent and sexualized media.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

a little reminder

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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

what bother you more violence or nudity

I found this article interesting, even if when he speak about the use of bad langage, it made me think how annoying it is for me to constantly hear bad word on French TV... Having to tell your kid not to use certain bad words they are hearing all the time on TV can be challenging. Well, for us it is kind of easy as they are not watching much TV...

What TV Harms Children More: Seeing a Person Murdered or Seeing a Person Naked?


Retired federal judge

As the Supreme Court (FCC v Fox Television Stations) once again wrestles with government control of profanity and nudity on broadcast television, I marvel at the focus. Children can watch murders, rapes, kidnappings, stabbings and beatings a hundred times a day, but it appears they need protection from profanity and nudity! In considering the difficult First Amendment questions, should the Court be asking whether there is a need or justification for the regulations? The statute and regulations creates a "safe haven" -- safe from what?

The network that allowed Janet Jackson to bare her breast for a millisecond was fined $550,000. The supposed basis for these regulations is to protect our children. How are children harmed by seeing a bare breast or a naked behind? I am not talking here about pornography or obscenity -- which also have their own definition problems -- but language and nudity. What happens to the children of the country after seeing a breast or even an entire naked person? When we were kids we called them "dirty pictures" and somehow we have incorporated that concept into law (and survived and even enjoyed the experience). Every child has or will see someone naked during their lifetime. Are they somehow traumatized by seeing them when they are young?

And to me, the concern about profanity is even more ludicrous. How are children harmed by the old label of "curse words" a la George Carlin? If children hear those words and their parents don't want them to use them, they can say so. But there is no intrinsic harm in hearing them. All of us would draw some lines when it comes to what should be available on TV -- broadcast and cable. "We know it when we see it," but that standard is different for everyone and too vague to provide guidance. The availability and competition of cable makes the restrictions even more problematic. It's like a father saying: "We don't allow that kind of language here -- go next door if you want to hear it!"

Also, there is the irony of those who insist on regulating profanity and nudity on TV. Although many favor it, the social conservatives are the moving force -- advocates of family values. But those are the same persons who insist that government should stay out of their private lives, and, at the same time, want it to tell TV broadcasters what they can say and show and families what they can see and hear. I am all for protecting children where they need protection, but my view is that far more harm comes from the barrage of violent, criminal activity on TV rather than from profanity and nudity.

Finally, if the Court should determine to allow "fleeting expletives" on TV in the name of free speech, it certainly will not cause anywhere near the harm to children that Citizens United has caused to the entire country.