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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Screen Time - Exchange Everyday Article

Young Children and Screen Time
May 16, 2012

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
-Carl Sandburg
A wide variety of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the White House Let's Move Initiative, have developed position papers on the extent to which children should be exposed to and engaged in watching television and computer screens .  Long time friend of Exchange, John Surr, has written and excellent summary of these reports recommendations, "Too Many Channels? Sifting through the Recommendations on Screen Media and Technology."  Surr concludes:

"It is clear that today’s young children are being raised in a media-saturated environment, dramatically more so than in their parents’ generation.  Although many parents and early childhood educators grew up after President Reagan de-regulated television in 1984, they need to be aware of the effects of that saturation for today’s young children, even though scientists are still learning about the full scope of those effects.

"It is also clear that young children’s intense involvement in screen media has adverse effects on their growth and health.  We in early care and education have a responsibility, in the best interests of the child, to wean them from excessive dependence on screen media, especially while they are with us and in our care.  We also need to be able and willing to work with parents to help them to make informed media choices for their families.

"All of the authorities cited in this article are agreed that children under two should be exposed to screen media as little as possible, and that child care is a place for their relationships and concrete explorations of the world around them, not for the children or caregivers’ screen media experiences.  Passive screen media in child care should be very limited, based partly on the likelihood of the children’s excessive exposure at home and the danger that a sedentary media habit can lead to obesity, sleep problems, and other health difficulties.  Although some authorities are more enchanted with interactive screen media than others, there is a widespread feeling that there should be limits on total daily media exposure, and much stronger limits on exposure while in child care, for children between 2 and 5 years of age.

"Violence, sex, and commercials on screen media available to young children should be discouraged, according to the health authorities.  Others recommend that children need time away from media to develop more fully their own imagination and capacity to play.

"We in child care have a responsibility to reach out to parents and community leaders, to convince them to make their lives more child-friendly and less media-saturated.  We all need to go outside and play."