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Screen Time... Good or Bad? My Story


| By : Shannan | In : ,

What is "Screen Time?" Its the time your child spends in front of a TV or Computer screen.

I don't want to cite all the resources out there about how "Screen Time" affects a child's development and health. Simply do a Google search ["screen time" brain, study] and you will find hundreds of links to articles and research studies on how TV and Computer time affect children.

Parents might be alarmed to know that the content of the "screen time" does not change the results of the studies!!! Even EDUCATIONAL material has negative affects on the brain and physical development of children. Now, I do want to point out that studies have shown that children who watch a decent amount of "media driven" TV adds to the list of problems:

Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, put it bluntly to the New York Times: “The average parent doesn’t understand that if you plop your kids down in front of the TV or computer for five hours a day, it can change their brain development, it can make them fat, and it can lead them to get involved in risky sexual activity at a young age.”
But even "Baby Einstein" is being criticized for marketing to babies when studies have shown that children under the age of 2 should NOT have ANY screen time, period! (Your pediatrician will agree.)

How does that play into our homeschools?? I think parents just need to watch carefully how they use media and computer resources to teach children. I myself have experienced the affects of this on my own children. My girls watched an average of 2 hours a day (its easier than you think!) Sesame Street (1 hour) along with one or two extra "fun" programs throughout the day and wham... 2 hours, easy. I was guilty of using it as as the classic "babysitter," once that show came on I was using that time to do my own things, laundry, dishes, cook dinner, etc. etc. But my husband and I committed to remove the TV time for 2 weeks just to see what would happen and how I would cope!

The first 4-5 days were the hardest, the girls (age 2.5 & 3.5 at the time) whined and moaned all day long that they were bored and they just didn't know what to do with themselves. It was hard to keep them occupied and find interesting things for them to do, their attention spans were so short. Then something started to change, they started playing together with much less fighting, they were being creative. Each day we avoided the TV the more they got along, the less they needed me to guide their play, the more they used their imagination and the longer their attention spans were. I didn't expect this whole thing to go very well, but after the initial 2 week trail, we decided to extend for another month. The girls would still ask, but they would be less upset when we would say no.

After a few months off the tube (AND NO COMPUTER GAMES!!) We started to introduce a movie night. One hour per week of a special night with mom & dad! They loved it, we popped popcorn and made it very special. But I have to warn you, they ask to watch something for at least 2 days after every movie night, a simple no and they would move on.

Then something happened about 6 months into it, I don't remember exactly what but I had a lot of work to do on the phone, etc. and defaulted to a movie because I could not be interrupted. 2 days in a row they watched 3 hours of TV or more. Now, they were good wholesome movies or educational dvd's and no "real" TV. Once I finished that job and went back to the "no TV" rule. WOW! I could really see the difference in them. They were suddenly very crabby, they didn't know what to do with themselves again, completely lost their creative abilities and their attention spans shortened. It took another 3 or 4 days to get them back into the swing of things.

I've heard other mom's say "I could never do that!" But I challenge you, our job as parents and teachers is to do what is best for our children. We sacrifice in so many areas, but this is one area that is extremely detrimental to our children and we as parents hold too tightly to this "escape." Not for our children but for ourselves and at their expense!

The girls and I now spend our days reading fun books from the library, playing games, spending most of our day outside exploring this beautiful planet God gave us. They play, play, play. All the while learning something new. Developing their skills and creating new things.
They help me with chores, learned to make their beds, put their clothes away, set the table and water the garden. We are training our children to be future mothers and wives!

We bring home 30 or 40 books from the library every 2 weeks and read every one of them! Spend the time teaching your children to read so they can explore books for themselves.
Once the girls attention spans were longer after removing the TV, my 3.5 yr old learned to read at a 2nd grade level in 4 months, spending only 10-15 minutes a day on it! And now she is open to a whole world of literature and learning.

I challenge you to seriously look at this issue and how it affects your family, seek the Lord and if you can't go "cold turkey," start small. Be committed, your children will test your will. Maybe you can do it with another family you know, support each other and if you make this commitment, you will not regret it. I know that we don't. For those of you who don't have children yet, start developing your habits now and it will be easier for you. You can do it!

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