Saturday, January 23, 2010

Consider this...

By age 5, most children have watched 5,000-6,000 hours of TV

A child is born with over 100 billion brain cells, most of which are just waiting to connect. To connect, children need lots of healthy, positive human interaction.

The brain needs plenty of nutrition, water and oxygen. When children are fed nutriciously, encouraged to drink water and not sweet drinks like soda pop, and many of the juices that are out there filled with high fructose corn syrup, their brains benefit. They will have higher levels of mental/cognitive functioning, and higher levels of attention.

When children begin learning a sedentary lifestyle in the early years such as sitting around watching TV for 3-5 hrs. a day or playing video games on a daily basis there can be major consequences in brain development.

I will never forget one of the most compelling things I saw when I first attended this conference on healthy brain development in a media/technology age. We were shown two photos of brain scans of two small children of the same age-around 2 yrs of age I believe. Brain scan A was a child who lived in a very deprived environment-an orphanage in eastern europe. The scan showed all the areas of the brain that were underdeveloped due to the deprivation-lack of stimulation and appropriate interaction this child was living with. Brain scan B was the other child, a child living here in the United States, who had spent hours upon hours in front of a TV screen since infancy. The result? The same underdevelopment of the brain in the exact same areas as the orphan child living in an institution. Too much screen time for young children is a deprived environment. It is harmful to young developing brains with connections just waiting to be developed. This brain development occurs through interaction with people, facial expressions, being talked to, sung to, rocked, music playing. Continuous interaction with people is what young brains crave, and need to grow in a healthy manner.

In my line of work outside the home, (Occupational Therapy, early intervention), I visit families in their homes a lot. It is striking to see the amount of TV, computer and video that is free range for children as young as 12 mos. Many times when I ask parents what their children's favorite activities are, they will only list their favorite TV shows, videos, or computer games. It is challenging for them to come up with other interests their children might have. I see children being placed in front of screens and encouraged to watch when the child is giving their parent or grandparent cues and clues that this is not what they want to do-they want to interact with them.

There is so much more, but as I close tonight, consider this...

Tune your TV to a cartoon. Watch closely at how quickly the images change. Now, think about a baby or toddler being placed in front of that cartoon to watch because the parent feels this is somehow good for their child. Now as the baby is watching they might see something that is of interest to them..they begin to formulate a thought about it...but/uh.oh.that image was gone 10 seconds ago, and they are now trying to think about the next image they liked, but, once again it was gone in a flash. This is the danger to young brains. The quick, fast paced images on children's cartoons and other shows today do not allow for the young brain to develop in healthy manner, they don't allow them to have to think and formulate a thought or an understanding of what they just saw. (I'm thinking attention deficit in later years, how bout you?)

And lastly I will leave you with the American Academy of pediatrics guidelines on how much screen time (TV, movies, video games, computer, hand help devices with screens) to allow your child.

Birth-age 2: NO screen time of any kind

Age 2 and up: No more than 1-2 hrs. per day.

There is much, much more great information I am putting together for these posts, and I will also be sharing a long list of things you can do with your child instead of screen time.


Jill said...

Thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Well done you for writing about this! I am absolutely horrified by the number of parents who stick their babies in front of the tv as they think it is "educational". I learned so much when I was a student nannying for a lovely family who had a tv but the children only watched 1 video a week, it certainly changed my thinking. When I had the kids we watched 30 minutes of an art show on Friday evenings and then a period drama (Road To Avonlea, Anne of Green Gables, Wind At My Back) on a Sunday evening for 1 hour. The rest of the time we played, read, sang, did crafts, walked and just chatted!

Marmee's Pantry said...

Excellent! So glad you posted this. It's something we parents all know, but it's good to have something tangible to back it up.

Blessings from Ohio...Kim W<><

Karen said...

This is so true!

Anonymous said...