Screen time has taken an essential seat in the lives of modern childhood. Various forms of media have penetrated into several functional elements of life, taking away the Magic of Childhood….the very life and creativity from our children. Childhood is no more about wild chases, silly conversations, the giggles, and wiggles.
It is an insurmountable challenge we are aware of, that remains as a conundrum for parents and facilitators who are working towards breaking this spell of Television and media on the little naive minds. I often wonder “Are the kids who have embarked on childhood journey sailing through the perils of visual media; are going to reach the shore of life with a brave heart of a traveler or going to be doomed into a no man’s world!!”
Are parents the anchors of a child’s life? Are the reins of the child’s future is in our caring hands or hidden under a stranger’s veil? Do we allow strangers into our house and perch them on a high seat of honor?
Television is a triumph of a machine over people – Fred Allen
Definitely not. So, Can you fathom a stranger taking a parents role or any significant role in shaping your child’s mind and destiny? Unequivocal, NO.
Yet through media in the name of television, game stations, mobiles and gadgets with endless hours of viewing, we allow strangers into the minds and souls of our children every day. The agenda and motivation behind various programs, advertisements, apps and visual modules are outright mundane and commercial but boldly prophesied for its suitability and sterling benefits for developing brains of the children. It has turned into a modern babysitting tool.
Many young parents claim harmless healthy content viewing that is structured and screened as helpful. On the contrary, several reports have stated that the actual act of viewing TV as more insidious and potentially damaging to the brains of the developing child than the actual content of the TV programs.
Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years age and poses a certain number of risks. It induces passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitement, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screen time even when it involves channels specifically aimed at them.( High Audiovisual Council 2008 ). It is the breeding ground for hyperactivity, Childhood obesity, ADD/ADHD etc.
Screen media have become integral to our lives and to alienate it completely from our daily lives is hugely challenging. With all our consciousness we need to protect both our own and our children’s viewing.
What are we doing to our children growth and learning potential by allowing them to watch TV and videos and spend endless hours playing computer games? Developing an understanding and raising awareness of the detrimental effects of screen viewing empowers us to make good decisions for our children, ourselves and for others in our care.
The infant is born with 10 billion nerve cells or neurons and spends 3 years adding billions of glial cells to support and nourish these neurons.
The brain of 6-7 years old child appears to have a tremendous capacity for making thousands of dendrites connections among neurons. This developmental potential ends around the age of 10 -11 when the child loses 80% of these neural connections. An enzyme is released within the brain and literally dissolves all the poorly myelinated pathway. can we all read it again…it dissolves all the poorly myelinated pathway!!! In earlier times, this space and time of childhood are filled with free play, outdoor activities, theaters, stories, puppet show, music and family evenings which is recreational n rejuvenating.Hence, it is imperative to limit or avoid screen time to the maximum extent and bring the classic moments back.
There is a sequential development of child’s brain from most primitive to the highly evolved thought brain or neuro-cortex. It is important that the young children who are in the process of forming their motor-sensory pathways and sense organs need the rhythmic movements to facilitate this development but it is curtailed by the TV and screen time.
Child’s visual activity and full binocular (3-dimensional) vision are not fully developed until 4 years of age. The picture produced on the TV screen is an unfocused(made up of dots) two-dimensional image that restricts our field of vision to the TV screen itself and eyes of our children, have to strain to make the image clear besides the ill effects of invisible waves of Electromagnetism.
Visual skills which are needed for various activities are impaired in this process. Watching TV do not dilate the pupils of eyes, show little to no movement and lack Saccadic movements of the eyes (required for reading). This hinders their reading and writing skills leading to poor performance. This explains why many kids nowadays are struggling with their homework time, sitting for a long time to finish a task which essentially calls for focus and concentration.
The advancements in the technology brought Colour televisions and have its own impact. Colour combinations produced on TV result from the activation of only 3 primary colors- Red, Blue, Green. The colors from it are exclusively processed by the Right hemisphere and hence Left hemisphere is diminished. Thus, Corpus callosum is poorly utilized here. A child can receive the full spectrum of colors from nature alone and it’s highly recommended antidote for captives of new age maladies.
Interestingly, Reading produces active fast beta waves while TV watching leads to an increase in slow alpha waves in the Left hemisphere and at times even in the Right hemisphere. No rationalizing of information happens during TV time. It doesn’t give time for a higher level thinking that inspires deeds that a simple book reading offers.
The trap of various visual media interactive programs promising knowledge adept kids turn a blind eye to the repercussions referred above. To reap the same benefits, parents can bank on the repertoire of books and theater plays. The gift of time and book reading are the best gifts that parents can give their children in the present times that nurtures the intelligence of heart and just not the minds.
Just like fasting is beneficial for our health; ELECTRONIC FAST is instrumental in shaping a healthy mind and soul of a child enriched with joy, imagination, innocence and creativity which is oozing with delicacies of childhood; a treat to eyes!!
In our next post, we will see how visual media can be avoided/minimized and electronic fast can be incorporated into our lives by filling with essential elements of a child’s core needs.
I am so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over. let us create the same magic again in our children’s lives…