Critical to monitor student’s screen time

Published 6:02 am Saturday, December 7, 2019

By Jill Rollie

Woodson Kindergarten Center principal

Screen time for our children has exploded over the last decade, which has brought about extensive discussions and studies among experts on the impact of television, tablets and smartphones during these critical years of brain development. As educators, we know that technology can be a great tool for learning, but excessive or incorrect usage can have harmful effects on our student’s development and future. A child’s brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of their life.  Thus, Woodson is dedicated to ensuring technology is utilized safely and appropriately to lessen any chances of harmful effects.

Jill Rollie, Woodson Kindergarten Center principal

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You might be wondering what the research says. JAMA Pediatrics, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association, published a study in November 2019 noting some alarming findings.  “[The] study scanned the brains of children 3 to 5 years old and found those who used screens more than the recommended hour a day without parental involvement had lower levels of development in the brain’s white matter an area key to the development of language, literacy, and cognitive skills.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that media usage and screen time will be very limited for children under the age of two and should only be utilized with an adult co-viewing while talking and teaching through the content. They recommend children ages 2 to 5 limit screen use to one hour per day and for parents to be vigilant of the type of media the child is viewing, limiting it to prosocial or educational content.  They also recommend an adult co-viewing at this age range as well.

Based on these findings, it is critical to develop healthy screen time habits early in a child’s life and continuing to focus on human interactions such as speaking, connecting emotionally, and playing with others to develop thinking, problem solving, and other executive functioning skills. Healthy habits for a young child might be bringing a bag of books, paper and crayons when you are away from home, reading books and talking about the pictures in the book, or playing games like, “I Spy” or “I’m Thinking of…”

Mr. Rodgers said it well, “Play is often talked about as if it were a serious relief from learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

Ultimately, our children are going to imitate us, so it is important to be vigilant about our own screen time as well. As technology continues to grow and expand, it will be critical for us to be mindful of the impact this tool can have on our children, especially if used in excess or incorrectly.