Today, I want to pick up on an article I saw on 8 February in the Straits Times titled 'Children learn better from people than screens'.
In the article, the writer (Vanessa LoBue, who is an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University Newark) quotes a report from the US, whereas from 2011 to 2013 the number of children using mobile devices on a daily basis has more than doubled from 8% to 17%. When I go to a shopping mall and see the amount of children who are 'hooked to a smart tab/phone' in a stroller, I would dare to guess, that since 2013 this number has at least doubled again!
I often wonder, why parents do this. Is it to keep the kids entertained so that they can shop in peace? Is it to make the kids 'smarter'?
It goes without saying that once the parents take the devices away, then the peace is gone, as the children love this way of passive entertainment. Where does this lead? But I'm going off on a tangent here, this is a topic for another blog.
It is important what you let your children watch!
Back to this study... I summarize a few of the main points I took out of this article and add some of my comments:
Infants don't learn from screens - as easy as that.
So speak to your infants and play with them. Show them your love by spending time with them, hugging them and engaging with them. That is
how they learn!
Match content with the viewer: don't show programs made for adults to kids
Pre-schoolers need pre-schoolers content in order to learn from it. If they don't understand a show, they might 'learn' the wrong stuff. As a matter of fact, it even lowers academic skills in pre-school children, based on this study!
Time is of the essence: don't keep the TV on in the background all day long
Kids get distracted by having the TV on. The quality of their play deteriorates, and so do other aspects of their development. Choose the program you let the kids watch, and then switch it off. They eyes will also be thankful for that! And I'm not even talking about the little bodies that need to be in motion (and not sitting in front of a screen all day).
Screens are not a replacement for learning form parents or peers
Learning the traditional way seemed to have always been the most effective medium for infants and young children.
I encourage all parents to follow these guidelines for the benefit of the children... although it might be difficult at times. Nothing replaces you as the teacher for your tiny and little ones, especially not screens, and especially not for longer periods of time.