Monday, March 3, 2014

5 Assumptions You May Have Regarding Screen Time & Your Child

In case you missed our guest speaker last week, Lisa Guernsey, author of Screen Time: How Electronic Media—from Baby Videos to Educational Software—Affects Your Young Child, here is a recap of some information from her presentation. 

Lisa’s talk was based upon an article she wrote for the National Association for the Education of Young Children titled How True Are Our Assumptions About Screen Time?  It can be found online here:
I was surprised to learn that there's over 700,000 apps available online and most of them are geared towards children!  Many parents just handover their phones to their kids, thus exposing children to screens without any knowledge of the app or product that their child is using.  What the child is looking at may not be all that bad, there are the “Three C’s” that parents must take into consideration when having their children look at any type of content on a screen, no matter the device (iphone/smart phone, ipad, e-readers, computer, TV, etc.). They are:

1. The content (What is the child really looking at?  What are the features?)

2. The context (What is happening around the child at the same exact time they are looking at the screen?  Are there other kids around playing?  Is no one else around?)

3. The child (What is their needs?  Do they have any stressors in their life?)

Regarding those “Three C’s”, Lisa presented five assumptions that adults have regarding screen time with young children. They are: 

Assumption 1: As long as the content is “educational,” it is good for children.  What research shows is that children don’t always learn what the program creators intend.  Sometimes they learn the opposite.

Assumption 2: The TV may be on in the background, but children aren’t affected.  Research shows that the TV may be impacting a child more than one would think, such as child-parent interactions and how children play.

Assumption 3: All media for children under age 2 is damaging.  Research shows that if parents use media with children under the age of 2, they should make sure that screen time leads to social interactions with their babies and toddlers, instead of replacing those interactions.  This is a good reminder as to why dialogic reading is so important!  Ask your child open-ended questions.  This will help with their vocabulary development!

Assumption 4: Scary movies and TV shows just go over children’s heads.  Research shows that scary programs influence children’s sleep and more, such as their sleep routines/schedules.

Assumption 5: E-books are distracting to young children.  Research shows that it’s all about how they are used.  Some data shows that e-readers can have too many distractions (such as swiping) and they keep the child from understanding the content.  Often times it leaves the parent saying to their child, “don’t touch that” or "don't click that".  These types of responses can feel negative to the child, leading them to have an undesirable reading experience.  When compared to reading a print book, it allows for more positive parent and child interaction, such as dialogic reading because all the fancy places to tap on the e-reader aren't there to get in the way; pages can be turned together too!   The adult who is with the child while using screen media matter—there needs to be guidance in place while operating the device. 

Going back to “The 3 C’s”, Lisa reinstated that content and context matters, and that every child is different in their reactions, temperament, and language development.  Children with lower vocabulary levels have a harder time understanding what is being presented on the screen.  Plus children who are engaged in a lot of gaming don’t have enough of an ability to describe the world around them due to lower vocabularies. 

Next week, Holly will post important information on WHAT to look for in screen media and how to evaluate it's appropriateness for using it with your child.  Stay tuned!

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