"What's wrong with this society?"
"Children need more play time."
"We've lost our Moral Compass."
"My child's phone is an appendage!"
"Are you using data to play that music/game?"
Do these sound familiar? It seems that they all relate back to electronic devices. As a teacher, we saw a decline in how children held their pencils and how they wrote after the computer, handheld game sets, and tablets came to be. We witnessed children trying to use their fingers on desktop computer screens instead of using the keyboard. There were many children coming to school with weak motor skills. Children were playing video games instead of playing with play-dough or paint.
At home, we are letting our children watch more tv and play more cell phone/iPad/computer games than ever before. I live near a park and will see children in their stroller watching videos on devices while parents have earbuds on listening to music or talking. They are not engaging their child in speech. Our children learn from us. They need to learn to communicate with us.
How sad is it to see both the young and the old on devices while out to dinner? Conversations are centered on the app or the video they are looking at. If there is a conversation. Where are the questions and connections about the day, relationships, school, etc…?
Parents have gone away from messy projects at home as well and letting technology babysit their child. They don't let their children play with finger paints, playdough or sandboxes. We have become such a "clean" society.
Did you know there are people making money on YouTube producing videos where children watch someone else play with play-dough or paint? This is ridiculous.
Don't get me wrong technology is great and it is very useful in our society. However, there are growing concerns with its use among children.
Recently in my readings, I came across an alarming statement, "Literary reading in America is not only declining rapidly among all groups but the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young" (NEA 2004, vii). The Washington Post in an article from last fall shows a further decline of readers based on the NEA from their 2015 research. The Washington Post, as well as Ellin Oliver Keen and Susan Zimmerman (Mosaic of Thought, p 31), share the same conclusions. Electronic media is taking away from reading. Where we once read literary fiction now we read Facebook posts.
What does this mean for our children and our future you ask? When you are not reading you are retreating from participation in our society. They include this as civic and cultural. The less reading we do the less empathetic we become. If we are less empathetic are we not less tolerable as well? Isn't this the landscape around us currently? We have fallen asleep on our devices.
There are studies that show reading helps us to learn how to see things from a different perspective and, helps to understand how someone else feels. Comprehending through inferencing what we read also helps us to problem solve for ourselves. Reading helps engage us in conversations. Those who read the most tend to become leaders.
Are we on our way to becoming a society like Disney portrayed in Wall-e? So self-absorbed in our device that we are not seeing our world imploding around us.
We need to take back control. We need to set the example for our children and grandchildren. We need to be readers so they will be readers. We need to be engaged with our future.
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced in October of 2016 new guidelines for parents:
Among the AAP recommendations:
The AAP also designed and has given access to the public to view, create and use a Media Plan. You can create a plan, and read more about advice based on your child's age at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx .
The Washington Post article mentioned above can be found at:
Plug your child into a book. Put down the device and step away.
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner