Thursday, January 9

Toddlers and Tablets

Get 'em OFF the screen, people!

We are way too reliant on technology and tablets and pads. We work with it, entertain with it, read from it, and expect it to spell check and think for us. It's getting scary. We recently had a fence put up in our backyard and when I answered the door to let the guy in, he very hesitantly asked if he had the right house. Yes, I said, you have the right house! He blew a deep sigh of relief and explained that his GPS couldn't pinpoint the exact location of my address, and boy, he just wasn't sure if it was this house or the one next door. I gave him a pause and stare. Eyebrows lifted. Really, dude? Do you not have my street number on a work order and do you not have eyes to actually look at the numbers on my mailbox and match the two up? Do you have beans rattling around up there? Are we so devoted to our technology and GPS that we can't think through an itty-bitty-baby-wee problem? Technology is squeezing out and killing the part of our brain reserved for this critical thinking. And that is freaking frightening!!

Babies and toddlers are the last little cuties that should be on this stuff. I know phones are a life-saver when it comes to entertainment in the car or to keep the kid quiet so you can have a conversation with your gynecologist, but oh my gosh. If it works this time, it will work again. And again, and again. Pretty soon they are learning to talk by watching Youtube and we have a kid who cannot do without his phone or tablet. Tantrums. Screams. GIVE ME BACK THE SCREEN!!

Not only is this unhealthy for social and cognitive development, there is talk of long-term damage to their poor hand muscles because they are spending way too much time touching and tapping and not actually manipulating actual objects like blocks, toys, and crayons.

Excerpt from the story
"A warning for parents of tech-savvy children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under two should avoid all screen time.

Jessica Kartalija reports doctors and therapists fear too much time on touchscreens could cause long-term damage.

Playtime for babies is far different in the 21st century. But parents could be making a big mistake putting touchscreens in the hands of toddlers and young children. Parents think they’re educating and stimulating their kids, but doctors and therapists are raising a red flag — too much screen time can hurt their developing bodies. “If they are always on the iPad and not actually doing those paper pencil activities that they should still be doing, those muscles are going to remain weaker,” said occupational therapist Lindsay Marzoli, Learning and Therapy Corner."

When a child's eyes are glued to a screen, they are not on you. This may sound terrific in terms of getting a break, but those "little breaks" add up to a crap-load of time spent away from learning from the most important person - you. Our daily interactions with kids teach them how to behave, solve problems, and learn how the world works. A screen is not a person, and while it can certainly entertain, and possibly give you false hopes with cute age-appropriate apps, it cannot E-VER replace a child's need for attention and guidance. They need those two things constantly, and if you are relying on some electronic "thing" to do the job for might be time for a little long-term vision and soul searching.

Here's to blocks, bears, puzzles, books, play-doh, and all non-electronic childhood playthings. (If it lights up, squeaks, talks, or does anything but stay silent and invoke the imagination, I prefer to make its' new home the trash can).

Cheers, my friends.