Let me begin this Slice with the message that I feel it’s crucial to write alongside our students … This is one of those times. This week, we will begin drafting our persuasive letters. We’ve been researching and note taking and now the time has come to put it all together. Today, I am trying to draft my letter … and I am not sure why I am struggling. Is it the dog at my feet whining to play ball? Or is it the rumble in my belly as there is nothing in the fridge that I want to eat? Perhaps it is the “milk” from our St. Paddy’s day festivities from last night? Either way … I need some advice. For this letter, I am using Serravallo’s 5.30 Problem-Solution approach to Persuasive Writing. (I’ve already sent it along to my Literacy Coach for feedback!)
Did you know that the “American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that the average child spends seven hours of their day looking at a screen, be it a video game, computer, cell phone, or television”? Too much plugged-in time has a powerful and damaging effect on children and adults. Combating screen time in adults can be nearly impossible while juggling careers and a family’s tight schedule. Finding balance for children is within our control. Parents, you must lay down the law and set technology limits for your child!
In May 2013, “internet use disorder” (IUD) was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Research has proven that the use of technology is addictive and disruptive to daily life. In one study performed by UCLA researchers, two groups of sixth graders were sent to an outdoor education camp. One group had no access to electronic devices and for the other group, “it was life as usual”-time with smartphones and tablets. Researchers found that students who were unplugged from technology scored significantly higher when it came to reading facial emotions than those who continued using their devices. Once again, research has proven that when a person who is too plugged in has difficulty interacting and experiencing the world around him/her. These findings are also backed up by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Is this what you want for your child-someone who is socially unaware and unable to form healthy relationships? According to Nicole Crawford, “Like other addictions, screen time creates notable changes in brain chemistry – most notably, in the release of dopamine.” Dopamine is the chemical released in your brain that is responsible for pleasure. It plays a role in sugar addiction and addiction of illegal drugs. Too much technology can lead to a Dopamine habit. I know you’d never consider it acceptable to expose your child to mind-altering illegal drugs, so why is it important to allow for excessive screen-time?
I realize you’re thinking that there are educational benefits to technology and, you’re right! I am not trying to demonize media because it is and will be an important aspect of everyone’s life. Instead, what I am urging you to consider is teaching your child to make good choices when it comes to it, how to limit it’s use and to-at all costs, make sure it never replaces playtime and interactions with others. As parents, we need to teach kindness and empathy, to play with our children, to know their friends and to expose them to a physically healthy lifestyle. Screen time cannot do that for our children. The latest prescription by the AAP is that it should be “limited to two hours a day for children ages 3-18. And, for 2-year-olds and younger, none at all.” Now’s the time to encourage a healthy media diet. Set boundaries like technology-free zones and times, sticking to the 2-hour daily maximum, have your child engage in imaginative play with friends and please, unplug at least one hour before bed.
I am joining the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) in warning parents that you must cut back on your children’s screen time. Now is the time to ask yourself an honest question: On average, how much screen time to my children actually get? I bet your truthful answer will make you cringe. Do not let another moment pass where you are allowing your child to be exposed to the devastating effects of too much time in front of a device. Take action and join me in acknowledging a no-excuses movement in being mindful when it comes to technology and our children.
A Caring Mother,
…. Fellow Slicers … Maybe it’s the TV in the background or the PlayStation in the playroom or my daughter’s giggle as she FaceTimes a friend that are my real distractions here! 🙂