If you think about it, adults have a lot of competition from video screens. Consider this: How many times have you spoken to your child lately and had to remind him or her to look away from the screen and look at you? Come to think of it, have you counted the number of video screens in your house? TV screens, computer screens, smartphone screens, IPod screens, tablet screens and so forth consume our environment these days. They are even on the microwave and washing machine, too! We walk around with our eyes focused on these small rectangles giving us information 24/7.
First, we know that ALL screens aren’t bad. Children who watch educational programming are learning, and adults need screens to keep us informed about the latest news. Middleschoolers and teens use computers to research and write papers. There are lots of great video games that provide entertainment and stress relief. But here’s the trouble:
Ø Many violent acts [on screen] are perpetrated by the "good guys," whom kids have been taught to admire. Even though kids are taught by their parents that it's not right to hit, television says it's OK to bite, hit, or kick if you're the good guy. This can lead to confusion when kids try to understand the difference between right and wrong. And the "bad guys" on TV aren't always held responsible or punished for their actions.
Ø Educational programming may not be harmful, but it isn’t likely to make your child that much smarter. In fact, in 2009, the Walt Disney Company began offering refunds for Baby Einstein products based on evidence that the products weren't educational. Some educational videos over-promise what they can deliver, and finding quality educational videos can be tricky.
Ø Elevated screen time suppresses the release of melatonin, which can affect healthy growth. Did you know that “healthy levels of melatonin help regulate sleep, the immune system and the onset of puberty”? A recent study in Great Britain found that “when children who watched an average amount of TV had all screen time removed, their melatonin levels went up by 30 percent after one week.”
Here’s what to do:
Remember: You have the power when it comes to electronics and screens.
You pay the bills!
Teletubbies is as bad for your child as a violent video game, says leading psychologisthttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1311139/Teletubbiesbad-child-violent-video-games.html
Media Tips for Babies and Toddlers, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/media-tips-babies-and-toddlers
How TV Affects Your Child, http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html#