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I recently learned that these days, kids aged 2 – 5 spend an average of 32 hours each week watching television. THIRTY TWO HOURS?! EACH WEEK?
To say I am blown away by this statistic is an understatement. I cannot fathom 32 hours. That means that toddlers (toddlers, people!) have a nearly full-time job watching tv. The unfortunate thing about this is that this kind of “job” does not come with benefits or a 401k. In fact, this job appears to mainly come with dangerous side effects, as our kids are suffering, and I believe the sad state of today’s American child is due to too much screen time.
Studies show that too much screen time (screen time being defined as time in front of a television, video games, hand-held electronic device, or computer) can lead to: obesity, sleep problems, behavioral issues, learning issues, violence, and even the inability to play independently. When you consider that the average child only has an estimate of 53 waking hours at home each week (and that estimate is generous), and 32 of those hours are being spent in front of an electronic device, you can quickly see the problem. And when most baby, toddler, and children’s toys are electronic, in essence doing the thinking for them, it’s no wonder our test scores are continually dropping.
So what is the answer to these issues? I’m nearly certain no parent sets out to encourage laziness or discourage intelligence. But let’s face it, we’re all busy. And being a parent is hard! Even those of us dead set on a screen-free household prior to having children find ourselves slowly giving small portions of time to the electronic baby-sitters in exchange for a few moments of peace. I am certainly not claiming to know the answers to the childhood obesity and declining test score problems in America, but I do know that there is a need for change. While I cannot change an entire nation, I can change my corner of it. Starting with myself and my little family, I can say no to societies norms, I can refuse to follow the crowd, and I can take control of where my children and I spend our time.
I am not saying all media or screen time is evil. My kids love family movie night, and I love Tuesday nights. But I strongly believe moderation is key, and I also believe that there are some great methods out there that we can utilize in our parenting. It is to our children’s benefit to be an advocate of the kind of childhood we want them to have. If we sit idly by, they will be grown before we know it, and we’ll have missed out on the years we are in right now, the years where we still have an influence in their lives.
You’re probably wondering where am I going with all of this. Well, in the weeks to come, we are going to share some neat ideas with our readers. We are going to explore simple play, play that involves learning, ways to inspire imagination, and some really great toys to encourage all of this. We’re even going to be giving away several of our favorites items! So make sure you check back, because we’ve got some fun things in store for you!