Last month, I had the rare opportunity to go on a dinner date with my husband. At the table next to us, I noticed something that is probably all too common these days, and it was in fact...sad. This family had a few kids, one being a teenage daughter. This girl had a cell phone glued to her palm. I really don't think it ever left her hand during the entire dinner. She appeared to be texting, reading, texting, and texting some more. She almost never looked up at her family, and never did engage in conversation with anyone at the table. Near the end of the dinner I noticed one parent asked her to put it away. She finally did after looking at it for a few more minutes. Then the family was standing up, putting on jackets, helping the younger one, and I noticed this girl got up, took a few steps, and reached in her pocket and again brought out this phone and was texting. It wasn't put away for more than a minute. After they left I thought, how very sad that a little screen has taken over and crowded out all social interaction she could have had with her family.
Did you know that small screens are addicting? Large screens are not, but there is something about eye movement and small screens that is very addicting. I don't remember all the details on this, and would have to do some research on how and why this is, but it was another fact discussed in the conference I attended on the age of media and healthy brain development. This conference was 10 years ago, it's so much worse now! I had a discussion with a dad the other day that has a young child that is having some attentional difficulties. Being on this recent kick I am on to educate all people on the harmful effects of too much screen time, I ask if he plays a lot of video games and watches a lot of t.v. This parent is pretty aware, and does set limits, however he did feel that video games are great for improving eye hand coordination and the quick thumb movements was something he was impressed with. I agreed that, yes, you may see some mighty fine eye/hand coordination skills, however, too much is still not good for any child's brain development, and self esteem.
We do watch TV in our home. We have never had a game system until last month, when we were given a Wii for Christmas. I agreed to this one, only because it is an active game system where you can use much of your body during many of the games. TV viewing is limited here. After all chores and school work is complete, my 8 yr. old is usually allowed to watch 1 hr. of TV per day, in the evenings (this is something we approve of, is educational or just a fun kids program that she likes) or she may choose a computer activity. She has a virtual dog she is taking care of on some site she enjoys, but I don't allow her more than 10 min. for this, then I encourage her to go play with her REAL dog. She doesn't mind, and her and her REAL dog have much more fun together than the fake computer dog. She also might choose a Wii game. She can only choose one of these per day, not computer AND Wii, or Wii, and a TV show. Her screen time is limited to one hour per day. My 3 year old is not at all interested in TV, or computer of any kind. She is happiest sitting in my lap with books or playing.
I do hope to always encourage good social interaction, and enjoyable converation with my children. I want them to look back at their childhood with warm memories around the family dinner table. I want them to remember laughter and great times shared together. The family meal table is a great place to make memories and get to know what is on the minds of your children. Nancy Campbell from the Above Rubies ministry has a book written all about the family meal table. It is very good. I think I'll read through it, and start using more of the ideas and biblical principles from it, and share some thoughts on how it is working for us in the near future.
I'm not done yet! Come back later for more great information, and hear ways to nurture and protect your young child's brain. Can you tell this is a passion of mine?? I so want to see kids living up to their full potential, being encouraged to be creative, and living passionately and energetically themselves, not just slumped in front of the TV or computer. Which reminds me, I need to sign off, as I have been sitting at my computer too long...more soon. Bye!
Old Dog, New Trick - We went to the Teach Them Diligently conference in NW Arkansas over the weekend. It's been several many years since we attended one, so we really needed it...
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