We are headed through the book “Set Free Childhood” by author Martin Large in our summer reading. You can see the post about the forward to this book here.
The author notes on page 1 that :
Whilst children’s needs remain relatively constant and enduring – for example, for loving relationships, good food, time for learning and play, and a calm rhythmical family environment – the world is relentlessly speeding up. The result can be that children simply don’t have a childhood any more.
He goes on to mention the ever-present media in children’s lives, from computer software to help babies “increase their intelligence” to computer games aimed at school-aged children to the increased presence of electronic media in schools. Many parents are concerned about the overload of screens on their children, and for good reason.
I disagree with the last paragraph in this article from Psychology Today, but one thing it points out is that a critical time for brain development is between the ages of zero to three, (and I would argue also during the other periods of known increased neurologic growth) and how using technology does nothing to stimulate what is needed for healthy development. This article talks about the fact that the neurons recruited during the teen years becomes hard-wired – so, if your teen is mainly sitting around and playing video games, this will be the the cells that survive. To contrast this, we know that outdoor play and movement are critical to academic success, and Martin Large addresses the increasingly “indoor” population of children in this chapter.
Author Martin Large also brings up the other difficulties with screens in this chapter: the marketing piece and how children are being inundated with marketing; the information overload in general. He also discusses the affects of media on behavior – increased behavioral problems, anti-social behavior, anxiety, sleep difficulties, eating disorders and language impairment.
This book provides many suggestions regarding screen usage that we can explore together in the next chapters. I look forward to hearing what you think about this chapter!