In November, I attended NAEYC in Washington, DC. Always an educational event, and always challenging. Although much of my excitement this year was over the opportunity to present 1 of 6 (Out of 600+, which is another issue) of the religious sessions, the sessions on media’s impact on the developing brain only heightens my sense of urgency that we make every effort to limit children’s exposure to media beyond print.
Diane Levin, Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts, presented on ways to connect with children “Beyond Remote Controlled Childhood”. The room of 300+ educators were visibly concerned at the end. Here are a few of my notes from the lecture. Just a little something to think about as we faithfully form our children…
- Hasbro has its first app out where children can play with play-doh on their mobile devices > what happens to development of fine motor skills and the imagination?
- Right from the start parents are told that they need to be ready for the future through media literacy
- 3 hours per day spent at screens by Infants to 8 year olds (Common Sence Media research)
- Families are changing, and we need to think about where bonding actually happens in an age when everyone has a screen in their hands
- Can kids experience a story through a screen?
- Children are spending time with screens instead of outdoors, and when outdoors
- RCC (Remote Controlled Childhood) > WHAT do children learn? > What do children WANT to learn? > HOW do children learn?
- Boys and Violence
- linked to toys and companies like Legos, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles – Companies who committed to non-violence were losing money so they changed their standards
- Disney bought the Star Wars brand to widen its reach when the interest in their wholesome characters waned
- Morning, Noon, Night – PG-13 movies are advertised on cereal boxes, lunch boxes, pajamas, etc (Star Wars, Spiderman)
- Children use play to act out what they hear and see – Oklahoma bombing, school shootings, Iraqi War
- Pretend or Real? How do concrete learners know the difference?
- SSSS So Sexy So Soon for Girls
- Girls are sexualized
- Play-doh – Prettiest Princess Castle – how does this effect children’s play?
- Barbie cell Phone charm school and Barbie movie
- Marketers knew that they could market to children early concerning gender, and many of today’s parents grew up in the time of the deregulation of how children are marketed to
- Playing is making yourself pretty – Barbie Hairdo set (Note to Self: I begged my parents for one of these and really enjoyed playing with it)
- Mickey Mouse Monopoly – Chyng Sun, filmmaker email@example.com is looking for stories about children and play with Barbie, Star Wars, etc
- Hello Kitty bra and panties set for preschoolers
- Lessons for Babies
- Babies learn to self-regulate through repetition and experience versus pushing a button that soothes them externally
- Babies learn attachment through experience and repetition
- Sesame Street is more electronic – toys that do everything and lack the important developmental needs of children – fine motor skills
- iPotty – a potty with a screen
- Baby Einstein – makes parents believe that this is what you need to do to make your baby smart > no proof that Baby Einstein really works
- Buy the right things for children so that they can be smart – “I want it” vs “I can do it”
ISSUES We Are Facing Today
- Children are asking when given Play-doh, “what does it do?” since they are used to toys playing for them
- Problem Solving Deficit Disorder – remote-controlled media literacy (She lost me here)
- Parenting is harder with the accessibility to media
- Children are bored even when they are surrounded by toys and games because they haven’t developed the ability to problem solve.
- Going outside is foreign without use of toys or gadgets.
- How do we help children regain the skills that are learned through free play outside?
- How are relationships developing? Children learn to treat themselves and others as objects, so more bullying and acting out. They are fine when they are side-by-side with remote controls, but when they have to interact they lack skills to interact and self-regulate. They lack compassion, and it is not their fault. They learn meanness early because they have not learned to connect to another child’s feelings.
- Age Compression – behaviors expected at certain stages are showing up earlier – sexualization, etc.
What Can We Do To Help Children?
- Put the blame where it belongs – it is not teachers, parents, and children – children are growing up in a culture where they are overexposed
- Take into account content and processes children are exposed to – clash of cultures > parent, school, societal AND media, popular, commercial < how do we connect the two by making the first primary as long as we can, and the latter secondary for as long as we can – ask children what they think about what they are exposed to, and LISTEN to their answers without judging, and letting children know you are willing to compromise in healthy ways
- Stay connected with children – have give and take conversations – ask them what they think – ask open-ended questions – take your lead from the child – let them come up with their own ideas about what they think
- Limit exposure to media and commercial culture – don’t just say “no” – use media wisely and appropriately – children will be exposed anyway, even when you limit it – be open about what they see and experience in media
- Develop rules and routines about the media and technology in children’s lives – how do you connect the boxes – how do you deal with sneaking – children need our help dealing with this stuff – how do we help children work on experiencing violent situations – schools and parents need to work together about rules and routines for addressing what children are exposed to
- Work to combat problem-solving deficits – experiences that develop problem-solving skills
- Choose toys and media wisely – truceteachers.org (Booth 935) – turn off the screens, and turn on the “snow play”, “leaf play”, “music play”, etc.
- Address content issues – find ways to help children express understanding and make meaning through art, music, conversation, etc. that connects with the children without judgement
- Help children use play to make meaning and work out worries
- Counteract lessons about Buy!Buy!Buy! – Connect with children’s passions – this will help them invest in their own learning – time for play, sharing, cooperation, conflict resolution
- Implement the safety rule – at the heart of discipline is the message that they are safe – “my body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, words, and work is safe”
- Remote-controlled teaching and learning is not the way to address remote-controlled children – we need media literacy education for teachers of young children (Huff Post – November 11)