Screen-Free Week: Parents this includes you, and your iPads, too
Screen-Free Week runs through May 6, and while it may be difficult, parents should not exempt themselves from the celebration. So, turn off those iPads, stash the mobile phones, and have a week of screen-free powered-down fun. We'll make an exception for Modern Parenthood.
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The lives of even younger children are becoming just as screen-centric. The market is exploding for mobile apps and “educational” computer games targeted at the preschool set. According to Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group focused on kids and media, almost three quarters of the top-selling apps in the iTunes store are for preschool or elementary aged children. Those for toddlers and preschoolers are the most popular category.Skip to next paragraph
is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..
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Add this to the DVD players built into minivans and the baby laptops playing videos promising to turn your kid into a genius, and, well, you’ve got a lot of what people call “screen time” going on.
The problem, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is that there is no proof that any of these “educational” apps or videos are actually developmentally helpful. And there’s some evidence that they hurt kids.Two studies have found that watching a program such as “Sesame Street” (and I adore Sesame Street, particularly Oscar) has a negative effect on language for children younger than two years.
So the AAP discourages media use in children under 2 years old, noting the lack of evidence supporting educational or developmental benefits, as well as the potential adverse health and developmental impacts. They also say that children develop at different speeds, so it’s hard to make blanket recommendations for this group.
But there's another aspect of screen time for kids: the adverse effects of parental media use on children under two years. This, AAP points out, is also a big problem.
Looking around sheepishly here.
Because it’s one thing to ban flashing lights and televisions and video games for my young toddler. It’s another to actually change my own behavior. To put away the iPhone. To fully acknowledge that despite my months of writing about this topic – of knowing this is a problem – my kid is more comfortable scrolling through my photo gallery than stacking blocks.
This is one of the reasons that groups ranging from the play organization KaBOOM! to the National WIC Association to the National Black Child Development Institute see Screen-Free Week as a family affair - an “annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life.”
I know we can’t really do a 100 percent screen free week here at my house. I’d lose my job. But we can do way, way better.
And so, probably, can you. Although we’ll let you make an exception for Modern Parenthood.
Happy Screen Free, everyone.