Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Turn Off the Television and Let Your Children Develop
Does this look familiar?

If so, you're not alone. Over the past few years, children's media exposure (television, video games, etc) has increased dramatically.
For a lot parents, the television is a cheap, reliable babysitter. Plus, it can be educational!
Win-win situation, right? WRONG!

Most parents are unaware that the American Pediatrics Association discourages any media exposure before the age of two years old.

Studies have shown that large amounts of media exposure before the age of two can negatively affect children's future communication and thinking skills. Source

The key findings include:
  • Many video programs for infants and toddlers are marketed as "educational," yet evidence does not support this. Quality programs are educational for children only if they understand the content and context of the video. Studies consistently find that children over 2 typically have this understanding, but infants do not.
  • Unstructured play time is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media. Children learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play. Free play also teaches them how to entertain themselves.
  • Young children learn best from—and need—interaction with humans, not screens.
  • Parents who watch TV or videos with their child may add to the child’s understanding, but children learn more from live presentations than from televised ones.
  • Television viewing around bedtime can cause poor sleep habits and irregular sleep schedules, which can adversely affect mood, behavior and learning.
  • Young children with heavy media use are at risk for delays in language development once they start school, but more research is needed as to the reasons.
 What can you do as a parent?
  • Set media limits for their children before age 2, bearing in mind that the AAP (American Pediatrics Association) discourages media use for this age group. Have a strategy for managing electronic media if you choose to engage your children with it;
  • Instead of screens, opt for supervised independent play for infants and young children during times that you cannot sit down and actively engage in play with the child. For example, have the child play with nesting cups on the floor nearby while a parent prepares dinner;
  • Avoid placing a television set in the child’s bedroom
  • Just don't pay for cable TV. Children can't watch television if there's nothing to watch.

Alternatives to television:

Go for a walk

Sing and dance to music
Collect leaves
Draw on a sidewalk
Go to the zoo
Race little matchbox cars
Make a snack
Visit somebody you know
Wash the car
Put puzzles together
Play dress up
Go fishing
Write a story together
Finger paint
Play hopscotch
Fly a kite
Look at the clouds for shapes
Go to the library
Memorize states and capitols
Build a house of cardboard
Go roller-skating
Write a letter and send it
Pick fruit at an orchard
Make crafts together
Plant flowers
Visit a farm
Have a picnic
Play in the mud
Go swimming or play in a sprinkler
Feed the ducks
Take pictures
Play a board game
Color with crayons
Make cards and deliver them
Go to a park
Put up a tent and play pretend
Finger paint with your feet
Find fossils
Jump rope
Walk to get ice cream or a snow cone
Make necklaces out of Cheerio's or popcorn
Make paper airplanes
Take a trip to a post office
Go to a museum
Free community events
Go to a park in another town
Blow bubbles
Ride bikes
Go to a local Farmer's Market
Plant a garden
Bird watch
Read a book
Act out a scene from a book
Parent-child yoga
Activities for cognitive (brain) development
Celebrate a holiday (National Popcorn Day, National Sock Day, etc)

50 Non-television things to do with your child
Unplug Your Kids
101 TV-free Alternatives

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