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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Toddlers and Screen Time

While searching for an electronic device for Maddie for her 2nd birthday, as a gift from her Nana, I stumbled upon a review for the LeapFrog LeapPad2.  The candid reviewer was incredibly helpful in regards to the pros and cons of the device but her last paragraph summed up the effects of screen time on the development of children so well that I just had to share it here, as I have been guilty of letting Madison watch too much television.



"As someone who has taught college for over a decade and is extremely well read on the cultural and cognitive impact of digital technology, let me warn parents that, despite what they've undoubtedly been told by marketers and educators, it is NOT healthy to allow too frequent use of digital screen devices. Mountains of data show that frequent use of screen-equipped devices like the LeapPad (phones, iPods, computers, etc.) has a very detrimental impact on concentration, memory, precision of thought, patience, and other vital aspects of intellectual growth. In fact, the average teenager of the digital generation is likely to experience withdrawal-like symptoms (akin to substance abusers!) when denied access to some kind of screen for more than 20 minutes! Let your child enjoy the LeapPad, but do NOT let it become a replacement for a LOT of other, traditional developmentally-vital activities, including a LOT of traditional book reading, outdoor play, socialization events, engaging conversations with older peers (including parents), slow-paced board and strategy games, and even an occasional long, boring car ride on vacation. (Yes, I know screens are the easiest way to keep a child quiet and content on a long trip, but allowing them to get bored and be forced to entertain themselves in other, imaginative ways--without the quick fix of a screen to distract them--is immensely important to their cognitive development, especially their capacity to concentrate for prolonged periods, which is a vital ability for most successful people.) I don't mean to seem preachy at the end of my (very positive) review of the screen-equipped LeapPad2; however, an astonishing majority of parents are disturbingly uninformed about how detrimental constant, repeated exposure to digital screens can be. It's not that digital screens are evil; it's that they literally train the brain to follow shorter and shorter attention cycles, as well as to depend on lights, color, sounds, and other superficially stimulating cues. This needs to be offset with at least as many hours spent on quiet reading, which is still the only known way to effectively improve the brain's ability to recognize the subtle nuances of different arguments and perspectives, to develop one's own line of reasoning, to concentrate for an extended period of time, and other indispensable elements of advanced reasoning." - Candid Reviewer

You can read the full review about the LeapPad 2 which we purchased for Madison {here}.

Since we live in a world in which the use of electronic devices is so prevalent I do think it's important to ensure that children are gradually introduced to how to use them as they will no doubt become an integral part of their lives.  But, it's so important that the use of electronic devices be heavily overshadowed by reading books, engaging in conversations/debates/discussions, arts and crafts, puzzles, and the list goes on. I believe that imagination, creativity and critical thinking are the keys to a successful future and fostering those types of qualities takes a lot of interaction between the child and parent doing activities that does NOT involve a screen.  

I can attest that this is easier said than done considering how much I find myself spending time on the phone, IPod or computer, but as I've said in a previous post I remember growing up in a home where reading was the hobby of choice (and I spent a lot of time drawing and painting too), so I know it can be done.  So as I tackle my own reading list over the course of this year, I hope to read through tons and tons of books (over and over again) with Maddie, among other fun activities, with a little time on the LeapFrog LeapPad 2 here and there :)!

Thanks again, Nana, we love you!!!


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3 comments

  1. I really want to get the boys one of these...I think they would love it. And like you said...it's important for them to know how to work with technology, but then it'd be giving them educational bonuses as well!

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  2. you're welcome. Love you guys too!!!

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  3. Awesome article!! This is definitely something to keep in mind while bringing children up these days!! I must remember.

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